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A Costly Spring

Thieves cost JCK Show exhibitors millions

Over the years, a number of thefts have been associated with the JCK Las Vegas Show. Thieves either plotted on the show floor or targeted jewelry dealers who didn’t follow the jewelry show’s guidelines regarding using discretion with their merchandise when outside the venue.

Security and safety remains at the forefront of JCK Show. Every spring in Las Vegas, usually in late May or early June, JCK Show management hires an intimidating protective detail. This not only includes the usual show security, but also the fully armed Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro). The eagle-eyed Metro officers carefully check that each attendee is wearing a badge. For those who wander within proximity of the exhibit hall without their badge, Metro has no problems questioning their intentions.

For some who have attended tradeshows with minimum security, this may seem a little overzealous. When understanding the history of jewelry heists at JCK and the fact that the jewelry industry is one of the industries most targeted by thieves, it makes sense. The total dollar losses from crimes against jewelry firms in the U.S. increased from $66.5 million in 2013 to $77.8 million in 2014, according to Jewelers’ Safety Alliance (JSA)

Three jewelers were kidnapped within five months in 2013, according to The Retail Jeweler. That same year, jewelry stores were burglarized, and jewelers were held hostage at home. Many jewelers were forced at gunpoint to hand over their merchandise. In 2015, four suspects pled guilty to fatally shooting a Georgia-based jeweler in June 2013, according to JSA. From 2000 to 2014, JSA statistics also showed that 66 jewelry industry personnel were killed.

For these reasons, JCK Show offers seminars to help jewelers protect themselves on the show floor, at home and at their stores. Show management also provides extensive security guidelines and offers in-booth vaults for exhibitors. The show has a list of pre-approved armored car services that exhibitors can hire in addition to the logistics company transporting their exhibit.

Exhibitors who didn’t take every precaution suggested to them instantly became targets of professional jewel thieves whose carefully orchestrated maneuvers seemed like something out of an action-packed film.

A group who stole a $1 million necklace from a luxury jewelry store at The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes in 2002 also targeted JCK Show in June 2003. Comprising of four men from Europe, the group had strong ties to a larger team of thieves who had cost the global jewelry industry $350 million in the last 15 years, according to Abigail Goldman for Las Vegas Weekly’s “Art of the Heist.”

Profiling the crew and predicting they’d be tempted to target the 2003 JCK Show, undercover Metro officers were proved correct when they captured one of the thieves prowling around the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

JCK Senior Editor William George Shuster also explained that a pendant costing more than $700,000 was also stolen at the 2003 show by thieves with Eastern European accents. This strongly pointed to the four men who had robbed the jewelry store at The Venetian and had obviously staked out JCK Show.

During that same show, a first-time exhibitor, ICE-Tek, was a victim of theft. This time, watches totaling more than $30,000 were stolen, added Shuster. This seemed to be an inside job. The police sought to question ICE-Tek’s personal security guard after he failed to show up for duty that day, according to Shuster.

The incident with ICE-Tek illustrated the importance of thoroughly screening personal security guards and may have contributed to the show management’s current preference for exclusive security suppliers. Exhibitors are also advised to follow JCK’s rules about handling their merchandise offsite. If they don’t, they may run into a situation like a California-based diamond dealer who had nearly $4 million in jewelry stolen from him.

While in Las Vegas for the JCK Show in June 2009, the diamond dealer took the expensive jewelry to The Spearmint Rhino, a topless bar, to show a potential customer — as told by Steve Green of Vegas Inc. When the buyer didn’t arrive, the dealer left the club only to return a short while later upon realizing he was missing some of his merchandise.

After shelling out money on investigators to piece together what happened to the jewelry, the diamond dealer and the rest of the world soon discovered that a Spearmint Rhino security guard and the guard’s wife stole the jewelry to sell it. Both were indicted on charges related to the theft in 2010.

At JCK Show, exhibitors are responsible for securing their merchandise and exhibit material, not the show management, sponsors, contractors or venue, according to the official show website. In preparation for the worst case scenario, exhibitors must have insurance.

Official JCK Las Vegas Show Onsite Tips
  • Staff – Educate your staff to be security conscious. A general rule of thumb is to have two people for every 100 square feet of exhibit space.
  • Show site arrival – A secured unloading area will be provided in the front building. After you have secured your line in the vault, return to park your car and get your ID badge. Security will assist you in checking in your line.
  • Showing merchandise – Do not show too much merchandise at one time. Do not show your lines to anyone without a badge. Lock your display case after each showing.
  • Vaults – Vaults are more secure than any showcase and a great deal safer than transporting your line back and forth to your hotel. A security camera in each vault will monitor activity while your merchandise is stored there.
  • Safes – Safes are also provided by the official safe contractor for your safety.
  • Private Guard Service – Armed guard service and unarmed guard services are available through the official security supplier only. No outside guards are allowed.
  • Cameras – Consider renting 24/7 surveillance cameras that record activity in your booth space.
  • Insurance – Review your policy and make sure it covers your lines from the time they leave your place of business until the time they are returned.
  • Momentum Management

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