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Did you know it’s a lot easier and profitable to be a jewellery thief now than it was 20 years ago? For a start, the value of jewellery that is being kept in UK homes is steadily increasing. Not only are high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) increasingly investing their wealth in luxury jewellery (UK sales of luxury watches have increased from £760m in 2010 to just over £2bn in 2019) but the value of these items are also rising.
The worth of luxury jewellery, for example, has doubled over the last 10 years, according to the Knight Frank Wealth report. But unfortunately, while the wealth that HNWIs store at home has risen, the technology to protect these items haven’t kept pace. If anything, it’s never been easier for thieves to target luxury items in the home.
The weighty issue of safes
At the risk of being blunt, in the opinion of TSI, a lot of safes now available on the market are not fit for purpose. Traditionally, a major selling point of a safe was its weight. The more difficult it was to move a safe, the more effective it became. Thieves would be forced to attempt to access the safe on the premises, which would often lead to them being discovered and caught.
However current European safe standards mean that a safe that is graded as suitable for holding £4,000 in cash and £40,000 in jewellery, may now only weigh a third of what it would have done 25 years ago. And the lighter a safe is, the easier it is to remove from certain properties. Thieves can then transport the safe to a secure location and spend as much time, and make as much noise, as they like breaking into them.
Mike Cripps, TSI’s Private Client & Insurance Liaison Manager, says that after almost 35 years in the security industry, he has recently seen a dramatic rise in the number of safes being removed from HNWI properties.
He says: “Because certain types of manufactured products and grades of safes are now, in my opinion, far too light. They’re a weight where it’s easy to remove. We are seeing more and more safes being removed from domestic properties which I never saw for the majority of my career.”
European standards are testing our patience
Without TSI wanting to enter into a Brexit debate we feel that the EN standards, that safes are manufactured to, are due for an overhaul. In our opinion, safes that reach insurance requirements through EN standards aren’t always necessarily fit for purpose.
A number of the tests that are used to rate these haven’t been updated, in some cases, since the 1990s. Which means that the same types of tools that were used to test the structural integrity of a safe 25 years ago are still being used today.
Obviously, there are Portable battery and power drills have significantly changed in that period of time. These can be used to gain access to a safe a lot quicker and easier than those designed several decades ago.
Bringing safes into the 21st Century
So should you advise clients to install higher-rated safes, that are essentially stronger but less discrete? Unfortunately, in our experience, that doesn’t help the insurer or the client. The size and weight of higher-rated safes often mean they need to be installed in an area which can support them, such as a ground floor cupboard, basement or garage.
But obviously, this isn’t terribly convenient. After getting ready for bed, following a hard day at work or a busy evening of socialising, we know clients often forget or are too tired to head back downstairs to lock up their valuables.
So in our opinion, the bedroom or dressing area is the most natural place to keep a safe. But as we have discussed, the type of safe that will fit discretely and conveniently in a bedroom is potentially an easy target. So how do we get around this problem?
By making safes smarter.
TSI has developed a system, the ProSync, that can offer 24-7 monitoring of safes. If any unusual activity or movements, including signs of an attack, are detected our monitoring system will alert the client. If thieves attempt to remove the safe from the property real-time tracking means they won’t get far.
Mike says: “ProSync is always live. Every movement and activity involving the safe is being recorded and monitored by TSI’s central monitoring station. Updates, particularly signs of an attack or unusual activity are automatically sent to the client in real-time – via email, text message or phone. These alerts can also be sent to a key holding company and the police, potentially stopping a burglary in its tracks. It’s all about making an inert object intelligent and fit for the 21st Century.”