Jewelry theft can happen anytime, anywhere, just like anything else. You just never think it will happen to you. One day, I had my coffee, took the dog for a walk, and was eating my ham sammie on an English muffin with cheese and ketchup, when I my phone lit up. That’s when I found out close friends’ of the family, who live in a small, quiet town, were robbed, and on a day just like any other.

Home robberies are an unfortunate reality.

Now, our friends, we’ll call them Janet and William, live in a small town in New Hampshire. William is retired and Janet teaches at a University. They have a lovely house, not too close to the neighbors but not too far away either. It’s the kind of neighborhood that when you leave the house for an hour or two, you might not lock the doors. Safe and quiet. But not that day. That day, their son was visiting from out of town, and they’d all slipped out of the house t0 run errands for about twenty minutes and were robbed. They didn’t even think about locking the doors—in all honesty, neither would I had I been in their shoes.

As it turned out that there had been a lot of robberies in their area around that time—forty, according to the police—but somehow they hadn’t been notified about the crime. It happened to the other homeowners the same way: they had stepped out for only a few hours and came back to find they had been robbed. All of these homes had been cased, meaning someone watched them long enough to know that everyone was out of the house.

As we all know, people are creatures of habit and convenience, and Janet is no different than the rest of us. She kept all of her jewelry—a very large portion of it family heirlooms—in her bedroom. I would say that most people, including myself, do the same thing. Robbers know that… Everyone knows that. So, the very first place the folks who robbed Janet and William went was the master bedroom where they took every single piece she owned. Real, fake, old, new. Everything except what she was wearing that day. Some of it was worth a pretty penny, but a lot of the jewelry was very sentimental to her and, we all know those things cannot be replaced with money.

Like many people, Janet did not have insurance on any of her valuable jewelry items and will most likely not be compensated fully by her homeowner’s insurance for that jewelry. Homeowners insurance—unless you take out specific, additional insurance for your jewelry—either does not cover jewelry or will only cover up to a certain monetary value (a max. of $5,000, for example). While what happened to Janet is a very, very unfortunate event (and a scary one at that! Random dudes in your house? No, thanks!), there is a lot to be learned from it.

I’ll be focusing on giving you advice on how to protect jewelry in just a minute, but let’s get the obvious out of the way: Lock your doors! If something like this can happen in such a nice town, it can happen anywhere. Even with locked doors, though, robberies do happen. There are some things you can do to ensure your jewelry is as safe as possible—aside from installing a full-on home security system!—but nothing is foolproof.

Location, Location, Location

Keep your everyday jewelry items and costume pieces handy on your dresser – but keep the good stuff hidden!

As I mentioned before, most women keep their jewelry in the bedroom. Big mistake. It is the most obvious place in the house to look. To protect it, find a less obvious place to keep your pieces. The police officers who handled Janet’s police report suggested keeping it in a nondescript box in a lower kitchen cabinet. I guess nobody wants to steal your pots and pans! Now, if you want to keep your most frequently worn, everyday jewelry like your wedding rings or your favorite studs in the bedroom because, let’s face it, it’s a pain not to have it handy when you are getting dressed, then that’s fine. But if you have other pieces that you may only wear on occasion, a box hidden in the kitchen or somewhere else is certainly safer than sitting in a jewelry box right there on your dresser.

Hiding things, obviously, doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to be stolen, though. There are two other important ways to protect your jewelry (and other small valuables):

  1. Invest in a small safe that can be bolted to the wall or floor and is preferably fireproof.
  2. Have your most expensive pieces appraised and insured.

Not All Safes are Created Equal

When you are investing in a safe, you don’t want to just buy the first one you come across. You’ll want to consider what you will be putting in it, the type of locking mechanism it has, where you will be installing the safe in your home, and who will be installing it. What you will put in the safe will determine how big it needs it be. If it’s just jewelry and other small valuables like watches or birth certificates, then something small is fine. But if you have slightly larger valuables, like maybe a few very expensive pieces of crystal or silver flatware—anything—then look for something that might accommodate all of your needs.

A small jewelry safe – for safe keeping!

Then there are your various types of safe locks: electric (either keypad or digital), key, or turn style number-based locks. They all work just fine, but some may be easier for you to lock and unlock, so you’ll want to think about how often you’re going to be opening and closing the safe before you decide.

When you’ve made up your mind, select a random and difficult password—that is very important! Don’t use codes like your address, phone number, date of birth, etc. that a skilled thief might be able to research. You’ll want to be sure to keep the safe locked at all times, too. That way, if you slip out of the house for a quick errand it serves its purpose and you don’t have to go trudging through the house to lock it before you can leave. When your safe is installed, you should always have it bolted to the floor or wall, especially if it’s a small safe. The bigger safes might not be as easy to just pick up and carry away, but those little ones? Someone can just tuck them under his or her arm, walk away, and deal with breaking them open later.

Where you will be putting the safe is also important. Just like hiding the jewelry in the kitchen cabinet is less obvious than leaving it in your dresser, so is putting a safe in the laundry room closet instead of the master bedroom closet! A friend of mine recently had a small safe installed in her house, for example, and she placed it in a guest bedroom closet instead of the master bedroom closet. It might not seem like it makes a big difference, but any time you can buy for someone to notice a break-in or police to arrive may help in such a situation.

If can’t install the safe yourself and need some help, make sure you do your homework before hiring someone. Ask a friend for a recommendation, check Angie’s list, or a review site like Yelp. You can also ask the manager or owner of a business that might have a safe, like a jeweler, coin dealer or even a business that deals with a lot of cash like a convenience store about who they used to install their safe. Another good source might be your local locksmith (check their reputation too, though). Sometimes they offer safe installation services, but if they don’t, they may have a recommendation you can look into.

Insurance is Insurance

While it can sometimes be time consuming—and annoying!—to get insurance policies set up, it’s one of the most effective ways to protect your jewelry. You can’t even legally drive a car on the roads without insurance, so why should covering your other expensive possessions be any different? With insurance, the pieces themselves might be stolen, but at least you can replace that pearl necklace you love so much

Having your valuable jewelry items appraised and insured is key for your personal record keeping and the safety of the jewelry.

without having to dig deep into your savings. Determining what items to insure, getting your pieces appraised, and the whole shebang can be a complicated process, but one that is well worth it.

Like I said, nothing is foolproof, but you can use all these techniques and more to take a proactive approach to safeguard your jewelry. You want to keep those shining beauties in your possession as long as possible, not in the hands of a stranger who just wants another buck.

Cheers,

Jess the Jeweler

 

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