Jewellery is one of the sexier industries for the general public to think about - all the luxury stones and golden adornments, often owned by royalty, celebrities or billionaire business people.
And when something happens to those high value items, it’s often well-known people who are targets, or an attempted heist that is splashed all over the tabloids. Even one of the hit films of the last year, Oceans 8, an all-female version of the Oceans 11 series, featured eight women attempting to steal a £114 million necklace. Brit James Cordon plays an insurance fraud investigator on the case.
Away from Hollywood, fantasy becomes reality for speciality jewellery and watch insurance broker T.H.March. Neil McFarlane, CEO, said that the firm has insured jewellers involved in high-profile robberies.
“The Hatton Garden safety deposit robbery was close to home for us, because we had clients who were involved in that,” McFarlane said. “And they’ve made a number of films about that.”
The Hatton Garden robbery occurred over the Easter long weekend in 2015 and became famous because of both the dramatic footage of the robbery and because the ringleader was a 79-year-old man.
While robberies like this are unfortunate for all involved, the businesses themselves are continually looking to improve security, with help from their brokers, like T.H.March. McFarlane explained that because of the type of industry he specialises in, risk assessment and management is especially important.
“Being risk managers is just as important as the risk cover,” he explained.
“It’s essential to the advice we give to our clients because, at the end of the day, we want to prevent the loss occurring in the first place. In reality that’s very hard to do, because jewellers are a very high-risk target.”
Providing this advice comes down to relationships, McFarlane explains. Each client of T.H March gets a personalised appraisal and security visit, so building that relationship and looking at their premises is important.
“Sometimes it’s the simple things - it’s slight of hand on the increase, so then you look at the internal cabinets, the locks, the glass, look at the procedures of the staff, how many items do you take out to show, where do you show those items,” he explained.
“You ask, is it by the front door, is it by the rear of the premises, do you take the customer to sit down? There are so many different variables that need to come into play when you’re giving advice to your client.”
One of the things that McFarlane is very proud of, and which has improved the sector considerably, is the Safer Gems Initiative, which T.H. March pioneered over a decade ago.
The program was designed to bring together information from across the United Kingdom to try and fight back against criminals targeting the jewellery trade. It was an ambitious goal, but one that has paid off considerably.
“We’re very proud of Safer Gems, it was an idea that initiated 13 years ago from our previous managing director,” McFarlane said. “Basically, the police forces in the UK weren’t applying the joint approach to crime nationally. They were obviously concerned with crime in their own police force area.
“But these days criminals travel pretty extensively. So, the joining up of patterns, gangs, individuals, was not being undertaken.”
So, T.H March got together with the retail trade association and providers, and Safer Gems was born. Now it’s run by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), where BSIA feeds information to the police about crime and suspicious behaviour.
“It’s been very successful,” McFarlane said. “It’s been instrumental in literally hundreds of arrests and convictions, including some quite big robberies, to some quite simple deception slight of hand losses. It’s the missing link.”