September 23, 2023

About 5 years in the past, executives at Compagnie Financière Richemont, the Swiss luxurious group that owns 11 high-end watch manufacturers together with Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, started to note a worrisome trend.

“Watch and jewellery theft was growing fairly alarmingly,” Frank Vivier, Richemont’s chief transformation officer, mentioned on a current video name. “Folks in broad daylight in well-heeled districts began to report they’d watches ripped off.” For instance, news reports mentioned greater than 6,100 watches have been reported as stolen to Metropolitan Police in London final 12 months.

Mr. Vivier attributed the spike in watch thefts around the globe to the proliferation of resale web sites, which he mentioned have made it simpler to fence stolen merchandise.

In March, on the Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva, Richemont introduced a free on-line platform known as Enquirus, designed to deal with the issue by encouraging watch and jewellery homeowners to register their items on its app or web site, utilizing model names and serial numbers. They’d then be capable to report them on-line as misplaced or stolen, ought to the gadgets go lacking. Anybody contemplating a purchase order who suspects that the watch or jewel has been stolen may then examine the database.

The corporate hopes the platform will cut back the motivation for criminals to steal the gadgets within the first place, as figuring out misplaced and stolen gadgets makes resale far more difficult. “We determined we wanted to make it tough for criminals,” Mr. Vivier mentioned.

Enquirus was conceived two years in the past and examined till December, when the present platform was launched. Mr. Vivier mentioned it now has greater than 6,000 accounts throughout greater than 100 nations, and almost 30,000 items have been registered as misplaced or stolen. Richemont mentioned all its manufacturers have been selling the location, and it has knowledgeable police and insurance coverage firms, too.

“It’s one place for key companions, together with regulation enforcement companies, insurance coverage firms, the pre-owned market, collectors and people to make use of and shortly search freed from cost,” Mr. Vivier wrote in a follow-up electronic mail. “It’s open to all luxurious manufacturers, and at the moment has greater than 190 luxurious watch manufacturers and several other high jewellery manufacturers already pre-loaded.”

Enquirus shouldn’t be the primary registry of stolen luxurious items. In the US, the F.B.I.’s National Crime Information Center and the impartial LeadsOnline are broadly utilized by members of regulation enforcement, whereas the Watch Register in London primarily serves sellers attempting to find out if a watch had been stolen.

Enquirus is, nonetheless, the primary such service obtainable free to customers, backed by a deep-pocketed group reminiscent of Richemont, mentioned John Kennedy, president of the New York-based Jewelers’ Security Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to safeguarding the business from crime.

Mr. Kennedy mentioned the rise in watch theft was a part of an total surge in crime affecting the whole business. “We had probably the most crimes towards jewelers within the U.S. final 12 months than we ever had,” he mentioned. “It was a greater than 30 p.c enhance over any earlier 12 months.

“It dipped manner down throughout Covid when issues have been closed and journey was restricted,” Mr. Kennedy added. “It was down in ’20 and ’21, and in ’22 it actually exploded. We’re seeing it proceed immediately.”

Mr. Vivier mentioned Richemont was intent on creating “a degree of emotional reassurance” for potential watch consumers who might have been deterred by current media stories of brazen robberies in cities like London and Los Angeles.

Whether or not Enquirus will assist curb theft will depend upon how many individuals use it, Mr. Kennedy mentioned. “To have a database work, it’s important to have sufficient crucial mass of individuals coming into knowledge on stolen property and sufficient crucial mass of the general public understanding about it to make the inquiries,” he mentioned. “They’ve obtained to comprehend it exists, and that’s a significant effort. However Richemont has the assets.”

Recovering stolen merchandise, nonetheless, “is an entire different can of worms,” Mr. Kennedy mentioned. “Say I’m a cop with a sufferer in L.A. and I get this discover that the stolen watch has turned up in Geneva. What the heck am I alleged to do about that?”

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