Where does all the stolen jewellery go?
Articles / January 2021
One thing that has always intrigued me for decades as a retailer and as a valuer is where does all the stolen jewellery go? As jewellery valuers we value for many markets, including replacement due to loss. That can be losing it in the surf (most Australians have lost something in the surf), but unfortunately, it’s usually due to being burgled or robbed. Even as a fan of a great jewellery heist movie I wonder – who fences or melts down this stuff after George Clooney and his handsome cohorts steal it? If you’re a criminal mastermind reading this, please don’t tell me – just hand yourself into the nearest Police C.I.B.
So, you have several jewellery pieces. They will usually be of irreplaceable sentimental value being engagement and wedding rings and items inherited by cherished family members. You have them all insured, because you’re clever and have had them valued for insurance replacement by an NCJV registered valuer.
You are then burgled, by some scumbag who makes you want to wash every item of clothing they have rifled through and Dettol wash every single surface they might have touched. Just do not do this until the police have dusted your place for fingerprints with the coal dust (well it is actually a mixture of roisin, black ferric oxide, lampblack, lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, silicon, titanium and bismuth), but let us just call it coal dust because it gets everywhere.
Following the big clean and installing more security, starts the process of contacting your insurer and going through the process of filing your claim for the stolen items – your individual insurance policy will determine your reimbursement.
So where has your jewellery gone? Police find a lot of property they believe is stolen, but they can’t prove it is stolen or who it was stolen from. Jewellery without identification (a valuation and a photograph) is difficult to trace back to its owner.
Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris a few years ago of USD $10 million worth of jewellery including a 20-carat emerald cut diamond ring valued at USD $4.5 million. The investigating police officer commented that the ring would be very difficult to sell and would likely be broken down into smaller pieces. Images of stolen goods are usually widely distributed among legitimate organisations such as the NCJV making it next to impossible for thieves to fence them in their original forms. Breaking a stone into smaller gems makes it less valuable, but also much more difficult to trace.
Stolen goods and jewellery can be sold to any number of online or second hand or exchange stores, swap meets or private dealers for cash. Not all thieves dispose of their ill-gotten gains – some steal for their own personal benefit.
Moral of the story – unless you’re a crook, no one really knows where the stolen jewellery goes. Jewellery gives such joy. We’re all guilty of just putting it on the dresser or beside the bed after a long day, but don’t. Secure it. Hide it. Don’t make it easy for someone to snatch a happy memory and sell it or swap it or give it to someone to whom it doesn’t belong to. Most importantly, have it valued and photographed by an NCJV registered valuer and insure it – that makes it recognisable, traceable and replaceable.
Jillian Langford NCJV Registered Valuer (Qld) FGAA. GG. BA (Hons) LLB.
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