34 | The Jewelry Business Magazine HOME INVASIONS AND TIGER KIDNAPPINGS REVISITED By David Sexton A jeweler in the Atlanta metropolitan area was recently involved in a home invasion and tiger kidnapping attack on their store. Home invasion is an illegal and usually forceful entry into an occupied, private dwelling with intent to commit a violent crime against the occupants, such as robbery, assault, rape, murder, or kidnapping. A tiger kidnapping occurs when one or more hostages are taken, to coerce another person who is typically related to the hostage(s), to take part in a crime. These situations are referred to as ‘tiger kidnappings’ because, like a tiger hunts its prey by conducting a lengthy period of unobserved surveillance before attacking its target, these criminals operate in much the same way. After conducting the requisite amount of field work, they identify their target and then intensify their focused surveillance on their subject to plan their attack. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1.03 million home invasions occur every year. However, accurately estimating the annual incidence of home invasions is a challenge given the various ways in which this criminal activity is recorded and tracked in the U.S. (i.e., burglaries, robberies in the residence, assaults, homicides, etc.) Home invasions are especially dangerous when violence is part of the crimes because the attacks can turn deadly. These criminal attacks play out behind closed doors in the privacy of a personal residence and away from public view. As a result, some of these events have had tragic and heinous endings. In 2002, in what Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA) still refers to as the “worst crime in the US jewelry in a generation,” a home invasion in suburban Detroit led to the deaths of a jeweler, his mother, and his three children. All jewelry crime is preceded by some degree of criminal surveillance. The more sophisticated the robber, the more sophisticated and/or more extensive the robber’s surveillance will be. Once these robbers have identified their next target, they will observe them over a period of time, then share and coordinate the intelligence they collect through patient, disciplined observation. These robbers plan and execute well- organized attacks and leave little evidence in their wake. What can a jeweler do? Your optimum defense is to always remain alert and aware of your immediate environment while at home and when going to and from your business. You are a jeweler and potentially a prime target for this kind of criminal attack. Harden your target! Let any would-be-criminal observers know you are NOT an easy target. The JSA recommends following careful security procedures at home. These crimes always involve casing, and every effort needs to be made to spot criminals before the crime, or to have the criminals realize that your security procedures indicate that you are not a good target. Look for and remain aware of any suspicious incidents, individuals, or vehicles. Plan at least three different routes to and from your business as well as know where each route nearest place of safety would be should you need to abandon your route. If you suspect you are being followed, continue to an alternative route to confirm your suspicions. When your suspicions have been confirmed, proceed immediately to your nearest place of safety. At your home, just like at your store, institute sound security procedures that the entire family knows and continually observes. Did you know that 66% of all burglaries committed in the U.S. are residential in nature?