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Store Security

Hello All, I understand that my question today is not a technical
bench question but it is a question I would like to ask of the many
professional jewelers and store owners on this list. The community
my store is in is a quiet upper middle class suburb south of Denver.
Besides one noteworthy news story it is really a safe city. However,
I have become increasingly concerned about store security and I
often work alone late into the night. While I have all the necessary
alarms safes and such I am considering buying a hand gun for
personal protection. Can anyone give me firsthand knowledge of how
or when a gun in a shop has ever been used to protect someone or
otherwise thwart a robbery?

John Sholl
J.F.Sholl Fine Jewelry
Littleton Colorado

Well here is my thoughts on this. Five years ago I worked for a
chain of stores in a small town and one wonderful christmas evening a
man came in put a gun to my head had me duct tape up 5 employees and
take the money. Okay … I am a huge pro gun type guy I love them,
there my hobbie. At the time of the robbery the owners only would let
me have a fake camera and no firearms. The man was going to kill me
because he wanted the vidio tape, well a problem here…fake camera no
tape! I did the best sales job in my history covincing him it was
fake and no tape around. I now own my own store and my policy is
this… First nothing is worth my or employee’s life, however there
is a time when you could have to" fight" for your life. I do carry
conceled if I am at the store late and to go to my car. I also carry
a remote key pad, cell phone and I call my wife when I leave. If I
dont call once I am in the car she calls the police. Am I over
cautious? Nope just take a simple pound of prevention. Now carring a
"gun" means Yes I will kill if my life or others is going to be taken
and if you chose to carry this is a grave reasponsability. The last
and I mean last resort to protect your life would be a weapon. In the
robbery I could of easaily taken the gun from this man and hurt him
badly but why? It’s only money… Now if he wants my life than I will
fight for it. If someone put there hand over the most controlled
persons mouth and stopps there air what happens? The person will
fight for life… Another thought is panic buttons. It to is a big
choice. If ya push it you could be a hostage now or a dead pearson
trying to push it. I prefer to let a bad guy leave and then push it.
Okay theres my thoughts… There are great store security tapes out
there also and if you carry a weapon read the book “In the gravest
extreme” Then decide to carry or not. Sincerely, Chip Stone (Yes this
is my name)

I read somewhere that people who keep weapons often have those
weapons used against them. But more importantly would you feel
confortable killing someone to thwart a robbery?

Dear John,

I hope others will join in on this subject, but I suggest you
strongly consider Jeweler’s Security Alliance’s advice on this
subject, and don’t have a weapon in your store. They have determined
over the years that having a gun only increases the likelihood that
someone will be hurt or killed should a holdup occur, and very often
the very gun you have can and will be used against you. I believe
that JSA has a web site, and would hopefully have some information
there on this subject.


John, You are going to get a variety of answers on this one. The NRA
members will all quote stories about various incidents in which it
appears that guns were used successfully to deter robberies.
However, that being said, you should be aware that most legitimate
jewelry security people–the Jewelers Security Alliance, for example
and that Jewelers Mutual- the country’s largest jewelry insurer all
actively discourage jewelers from carrying handguns. They believe
that gun ownership by jewelers usually leads to more injuries and
deaths among innocent people like the jeweler and their employees
than among the criminals. Perhaps you should look into some other
reasonable changes in the way you do things. You might go to your
local police department and tell them what is going on and ask if
they would increase patrols near you on the nights you are going to
be working late. Maybe you should get an employee or friend to hang
around with you at night so there are more of you around. Get a
large dog. Park closer to your store (or move your car closer after
the store closes if that is possible. Don’t carry any jewelry out
with you. Put a surveillance camera up that allows you to see
outside your store. There are lots of safe (and in the case of the
large dog idea fun) alternatives to gun ownership. Daniel R. Spirer,
GG Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000 @spirersomes

John, Regarding the use of a gun to thwart a store robbery, there are
many instances where this has been done successfully. There are also
instances which have resulted in death and injury to store owners
,staff and bystanders. It is not an action to be taken lightly nor
without a serious self assessment of your personal physical and
psychological ability to effectively use a firearm in self defense.To
do so you must get the training to become proficient in the use of
your chosen weapon(s) , you must become educated in the law as it
pertains to the use of a firearm in self defense in your state, and
you must be be prepared to kill another human being. Anything less
may result in consequences to yourself much more serious than losing
your valuables. The current (March/April 2002 ) edition of the
magazine AMERICAN HANDGUNNER contains an article that deals with the
experiences of a Los Angeles watchmaker who, over a period of almost
three years, was involved in four gunfights with a total of eleven
armed store robbers. In these fights he successfully defended his
property , killing five and wounding one of the perpetrators while
receiving four bullet wounds himself. If you are willing to commit
yourself to doing what you have to do, I’d say have at it. The
jewelers vigilance committe takes the opposite view, however. Good
luck! Jerry in Kodiak

John, I have to put in my two cents here. Several people have given
you good advice. Take extra security measures. Only buy a gun if you
are willing to kill someone with it. As far as the statistict about
you being more likely to kill someone you know or yourself, or have
the gun used against you, here is the info behind that study. It was
the result of a study done by a professor at Emory University in
Atlanta. He found that if you own a gun, then you are 42 times more
likely to kill someone you know, or yourself, than you are to kill an
intruder. Roulghly 37 of the 42 are suicides. As long as your not
suicidal, then it drops to 5 times as likely. Now, if your a drug
dealer and one of your competitors who you know comes by to kill you
but you shoot them first then this counts as killing someone you
know. If you get a restraining order against your abusive husband, he
comes back, kicks in the door and tells you that he is going to kill
you and you shoot him. This counts as killing a family member. But if
someone breaks into your house and you chase them away with a
warning shot, then this is not counted in the study. If you shoot
them, but they don’t die, then it doesn’t count. Nevermind that in
both of these cases, the gun may have saved your life.

This study was basically discredited as unscientific by the
scientific community, but for some reason it stays around anyway. So
the same professor did another study in which he found that if you
own a gun you are almost three times as likely to be murdered as
someone who doesn’t. The only problem is, he also found that you are
much more likely to be murdered if you have burglar bars or a
security system. It turns out that people who feel the need to buy a
gun or get a security system, or burglar bars, do so because they
live in high crime neighborhoods where they are more likely to be

Anyone who tells you that all you have to do is cooperate with the
burglars, then you’ll be ok, doesn’t read the news. My parents were
held hostage in their home for two hours before the guy (who was
strung out on meth) decided to kill them. The only thing that saved
them, was my mom running, and my dad grabbing his rifle. They had
already given him all their money and their car keys.

With all of this said, if you decide to buy a gun, go to They have all the info on how to get a concealed
carry permit in each state. Then go to a shooting range. Ask to shoot
a variety of guns to find one you are comfortable shooting and
comfortable carrying. It’ll do you no good if it’s so heavy and
clunky that you leave it at home. Then buy the appropriate ammunition.
There are quite a few types designed specifically for personal
protection. Buy the cheapest ammo for practicing, and the best ammo
for carrying.

Lastly, if you have any doubt in your mind that you would use a gun
to kill another human being, then, please, DO NOT buy a gun. You will
just end up being one of the rare cases where it was used against

Good luck. Whatever you decide, hopefully, you’ll never be in a
position where it matters.

Kevin Ard

The material I have seen from Jeweler’s Mutual (video tape) has very
good info on discouraging robberies of store and the jeweler off

The recommend MANY things, Here are a few of them… The tape is
available for viewing… a very good use of time!!!

-Never work alone. Especially at opening and closing time.

-Never take breaks at same time.

-Observe cars and people from the window as you remove displays for
the night.

-NEVER allow people unknown to you to go behind a counter. ASK FOR ID
for any person - for any reason - who ‘‘needs to go back there’’. I
demand to see the truck of a utility worker. (haha, you bet I am

-Don’t carry jewelry.

-Don’t take the same route to or from home each day.

-Never permit family or employees to reveal your schedule to people
not known to you.

-Use cameras.

  • Some very exclusive stores have visible automatic locking doors
    when an alarm is pressed.

-Use background checks for employees.

-Get car tires that can be driven on when flat. Many jewelers have
been robbed in transit from deliberately punched tires.

-Acknowledge every customer when they enter your business. LOOK AT
THEM. and if there are several people, deal with them, one at a
time… confusion is a major cause of theft.

-Keep the cases locked and in good condition.

-Obtain an alarm system with a back up, should something fail or be
tampered with.

-Use an approved safe, and have insurance in case the worst happens
in fire or theft. That way, it makes little need to shoot it out -
to save your financial life, and risk your mortal one.

There have been some brutal robberies here, by professional gangs,
who have no hesitation in using deadly force on anyone who wants to
fight. Several jewelers have been hurt but not killed. Police felt
that if the jewelers had used their guns, the outcome would have been
much worse.

Few of us are a up to a shoot it out.nor is. my ego is not worth
dying for! Like landing a plane, any robbery you walk away from is
’ a good one’’ - at least in living to tell about it!

I carry my valuables, secured in plastic bags, in a large coffee
thermos, a trick soda pop can, or 46 oz soda pop cup with lid and

At home, I have a small safe, with a round of plywood placed on the
top, with a table cloth over it,in livingroom, to appear it is a
piece of furniture.

I hope this is useful.


While I am sure that you there will be many opinions expressed about
handguns or any firearms in stores. I am personally pro gun, with a
very large caveat! You MUST know how to use this tool like any other
used poorly all tools can cause problems. Guns by their very nature
are likely if used poorly are very dangerous. Get training first
shoot a lot before you ever consider having a gun in your store!
There are Practical Pistol competitive shooting organizations in most
areas. These are a good place to start. If you can’t shoot well in
under competitive pressure you sure will not be able to shoot well in
a life threatening situation. If you are not willing to shoot
monthly at a minimum don’t even consider having a gun in your store!
Mark Chapman

I’d like to hear on this subject from some Orchid members from other
countries where handguns are not epidemic.

Janet Kofoed

There are two kinds of security.


Absolute security is simple.  Shoot now, don't ask questions. 	False

security has many levels and can almost nothing or be very, very
expensive. My previous employer had a good view on this subject,
though. You don’t want to make yourself impossible to rob, it’s too
expensive to keep it up. Make it more difficult than robbing the guy
down the street. Better safe, better alarm system. A dog is NOT
security, a dog is psychology. Anyone intent on robbing you will
shoot the dog first. But it will deter those who are just looking
for an easy mark. Any insurance company or industry group that
thinks it could be held liable for its viewpoint is going to have the
opinion that having a gun on the premises is a bad thing. For most
people, though, a gun is just what they don’t need. Without
dedicating serious time to training with the weapon you can and will
become more of a danger to yourself than any criminal. If you are
truly worried about it, then get one and wear it from the store to
your car -in plain view- where the criminals can see you wearing it.
It is a deterrent, not a guarantee. It does sound as though you are
doing the right things by taking serious consideration about what you
want to do.

Personally, I will not have a gun in the store.  I have two young

children and the chance of my son or daughter getting to it is far
more worrisome than losing the trivialties of cash or product.
Though it may seem an anachronism I will have a sword in the store.

Ben Silver
Manx Gallery

Here’s a bit of input from my significant other - He’s a designer
and distributor of Large Burglar and Fire Alarm Systems. He suggests
strong grade pepper spray (there is a big difference in what is
available, in term s of effectiveness - he buys it from a Police
Supply- I imagine you can buy i t online.) Here’s a description of the
product: "Pepper Spray is a self defense product derived from hot
cayenne peppers. Our pepper spray contains 10%, 15% & now 17%
Oleoresin Capsicum, up to 2.0 million Scoville heat unit rating, the
strongest pepper spray formula available. When sprayed in the face,
pepper spray will cause temporary blindness and restricted breathing.
The effects of the pepper spray last fo r 30 to 45 minutes. This
pepper spray is non toxic, nonflammable, and will no t deteriorate
with age. Since OC pepper spray is an inflammatory agent, it is
effective against those who feel no pain such as psychotics, drunks,
or dru g abusers. Our pepper spray also contains ultraviolet dye for
police identification. This pepper spray has also proven to be the
best deterrent available for attacking animals. Yosemite National
Park is now advising all visitors to bring pepper spray to protect
themselves from bears. " The spray he uses will work up to 12 feet
away. HTH, Kate Wolf (I’m sorry (and embarrassed) about the bad advice
on the ‘Poor man’s copyright’ Another jeweler’s myth bites the dust!)

All, Security is one of my major issues. I have come to the
realization that security is just like the military taught me. I
spent 20+ years in the military. Security is a one on one personal
duty. You are the one required to be physically aware of your own
capabilities and your surroundings. You must be able to protect
yourself and your belongings. No one else will do it for you. You
have three choices. Either you become a victim, a survivor, or a
casualty. I chose to never be a victim. Anyone who decides to steal
from me knows up front that I will fight to my death to protect my
life and pssessions. I will not join most of the US society that
prefers to be continuously victimized.

I am trained to protect myself in many different ways. Physically I
am trained to fight, mentally I am trained to observe, and
emotionally I am trained to take whatever measures are necessary. Do
I carry a gun? I am capable. I always carry weapons. The lawbreaker
can take his chances. Let the lawbreaker guess. I could have a gun,
a knife, mace, or just my own ability to fight. I will use whatever
methods necessary. I have always had a handgun in my house. My
daughter has been trained to shoot since she was 6 years old.
Responsible gun owners are all trained. The only epedemic in the USA
is the acceptance of “victimization”, the movement to disarm law
abiding people, and the lack of personal will to fight back.
Afraid to get hurt or hurt someone else.

Every traveling salesperson I know carries a gun, is trained in the
use of a gun, and will use it. Let the lawbreaker guess.

Gerry Galarneau

Wow, is there a voice of reason out there? I would be wary of any
research done where the researcher has an agenda like the NRA or
Handgun Control Inc.(I have to say I hate extremism in any form) I
would have to say the purest would have to come from the
insurance industry ,which I hate to say but, they don’t get rich by
paying off claims. They want to take your money and NOT pay off so if
they say don’t brandish a weapon during a hold up then I wouldn’t. I
would loath being a victim but would rather surrender to live to
fight another day. The amount of energy and training required to
think I could fight my way out of any situation is too much, that’s
what police do for a living, not me. Even they don’t win all the
time. Am I firearmless in my store? no. Do I have a plan to defend
the store? I go along with give them what they want and get them out
of here ASAP, no extra follow instructions. Will I kneel
down in the back of the studio with a gun to my head…God I hope I
don’t ever have to face that but, at that point instinct will take
over. Sam Patania, Tucson

Hi, all- I have never been held up for jewelry. Having uttered the
disclaimer, I can tell you that in my young and foolish days I lived
in a fairly bad neighborhood in Detroit, where people were frequently
held up for whatever they had on their person. I learned a few
things, most notably-

Don’t ever think that it’s just a matter of giving up your property
(jewelry, money, whatever) to avoid conflict. Your opponent is
looking for a victim, and if you succumb, he/she may very well have
their way with your person as well-- I’m talking about the
possibility of you and/or others under your protection being beaten,
raped or killed. Why would you assume that your assailant will draw
the line at simple theft? Your assailant does not perceive you as a
person- he perceives you as a source of gratification. If you
surrender, you surrender not only your posessions, but your

That being said, don’t assume that you are safe because you have a
gun- trust me, your gun won’t fire by itself. If you are not fully
mentally and emotionally prepared to spackle your shop walls with
the brains of a perpetrator, don’t pack a gun- it is of no use to
you, and it may be used by your assailant.

Lee Einer

Greetings All, Here is my 2 Cents worth. I am a Peace Officer by
profession. Note I say Peace Officer as opposed to the more popular
Law Enforcement Officer. One only has to watch one episode of COPS
to see what is wrong with the idea of Law Enforcement vs. Peace
Keeping. But I digress. I wish to chime in on the Store Security
issue. I believe that your security is your responsibility. You are
responsible to protect yourself however you see fit. If you choose
to use a firearm you must accept the responsibility of that action.
The Criminal element does not accept that responsibility. They are
basically cowards who will use whatever means they can to take your
possessions and your life means nothing to them. To reach their goal
they will kill you and your employees or family. Being passive and
not fighting the barbarians will only allow them to flourish and we,
the law abiding will decline. I also am a firm believer in the
ultimate punishment for such crimes. I know this will start another
round of whining about the inhumanity of the death penalty. Believe
me that the animals have no humanity and your life means nothing to
them. One thing is certain the subject of the death penalty will
NEVER commit another crime against the innocent.

I rant! To sum it up no matter which weapon you chose believe that
YOU are the weapon, the firearm, pepper spray etc are only tools.
Your attitude and willingness to defend your self and yours is all
that really matters.

Bill Mayfield
Biliblade Jewelry ( just a hobby for now)

Hi all, Just one more word of advice regarding gun ownership. I once
interviewed a former law enforcement officer who made the point that
if you are going to have a gun, you must be familiar with the laws
that govern under what circumstances you can use that gun. For
example, in many states you cannot shoot someone to protect your
possessions, only to defend your life. What consitutes self-defense
may also vary from state to state. So if you think you may need to
use your gun someday – and why else would you have a gun? – please
be certain you are completely familiar with the laws that govern the
use of that gun. It would be irony itself to shoot someone who was
holding you up, only to be arrested and prosecuted because the law
says shooting someone to prevent a robbery is assault. Please also
note: you must abide by the laws of whatever state you are in at the
time of the incident, so if you’ve moved since you obtained the gun,
please check the laws in your new home state. Just because shooting
the robber is considered self defense in one state doesn’t mean it
will be in another.

I’d also like to note that the one thing that has been underlined in
all my conversations with responsible gun owners is the emphasis
everyone places on knowing how to use your gun. Not just basic
markmanship, but safety and training for crisis situations – and
practice, practice, practice. I suspect most people just want to get
a gun and put it in a drawer so they’ll feel safe – and I think this
is one reason why so many organizations say don’t do it. As one
friend points out, when you’re in a crisis situation, your instincts
take over. If you haven’t trained and honed those instincts, you may
not react as you should, and the results can be very bad – and
possibly deadly for you and your loved ones. For this reason, even
the pro-gun people I know say you should only consider buying a gun
if you’re willing to make a serious, ongoing commitment to training
and practice.

Just for the record, I asked that former law enforcement officer
whether he would recommend jewelers get a gun for security. His
response was that he would absolutely defend a citizens right to own
a gun, but that as a general rule, he would not recommend getting a
gun. He said he personally had witnessed far more negative results of
gun ownership than positive, including the accidental deaths of
children and an instance where the guy was arrested and jailed
because he had used the gun in violation of self-defense laws.

Just my two cents worth.

Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255