“The world is becoming less secure and coin shows are increasingly a target for both sophisticated and novice criminals looking to make a quick score,” cautions Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) Executive Director Robert Brueggeman, who also is the founder of Positive Protection, Inc., a nationwide security company.
To reduce the odds of becoming a victim, PNG has prepared the following list of “best practice” security tips for dealers and helpful information for collectors.
“First and foremost, when attending a coin show, assume you are an active target and protect yourself accordingly. Be attentive to those around you, don’t become complacent, and stay alert at all times,” advised Brueggeman.
PREPARING FOR, TRAVELING TO, AND SETTING UP AT A SHOW
If traveling to and from an airport, consider using a trusted private transportation service, or better yet, arrange for an escort with show security.
If you are traveling to and from a show via your personal vehicle, park your vehicle, unload it, and never return to that vehicle again until the last day when you are loading and leaving.
Never leave your coins in an unattended vehicle.
Know in advance where to enter a show facility, security room, and bourse floor.
Upon arrival, locate the unloading area and make sure adequate security is in place while unloading. Before exiting your vehicle, look around for any suspicious persons, vehicles, or activity.
Secure inventory in the show security room or the bourse floor before going to a hotel. Do not take inventory or cash to a hotel.
When you arrive at your table, secure inventory behind the table before you start arranging cases, lamps, and chairs. Do not leave anything in the aisle. Secure all inventory for display in locked cases. Cases should be kept locked at all times, including those on backup tables.
Avoid being distracted during setup and identify who is on each side and behind you.
Do not let other dealers or early birds look at coins until set-up is complete. This will eliminate any distractions and maintain control of inventory.
Once set-up is complete, take photos with your phone to document your presence at the show (for insurance and law enforcement purposes).
Never leave your table unattended. However, if you must leave your table, lock all cases and alert dealers next to you and behind you.
Know how to contact security and report any suspicious persons or activity, including someone taking pictures or video of the bourse floor. Utilize your phone to photograph/video and document suspicious persons.
Do not display more material than you can control. Use extra cases on a backup table to secure additional inventory, money bags (do not display stacks of cash), and invoices. Be particularly vigilant about any part of a back table that may be accessible outside of your booth (including if the booth behind you is vacant).
If you occupy a corner table, make sure backup inventory cannot be reached by customers.
Develop a mental plan of escape if an emergency arises that requires the immediate evacuation of the bourse floor. If lights go out, have customers push back away from the table and remain seated. Close and lock cases immediately.
If you are alone, do not show coins to multiple customers at one time. Suspects working in pairs often utilize this method to keep a dealer distracted.
Remember there is no distinctive profile of what a thief looks like. When working in pairs, the typical method is for one suspect to look at coins while the other one asks questions to create a distraction.
Be on guard for someone moving an item out of view, for example, slipping an item(s) into a magazine, papers, or other means of concealing something.
Make sure persons who approach your table have proper credentials and do not let customers place personal items on showcases.
When showing raw coins, watch hand movements for palming of coins. A person looking through a box may pull out several coins, hold them in the palm, and continue to look through the box. They may also pull out several coins, lay them out on the case, and continue to look through the box. This creates an additional distraction and allows for easy palming.
Do not let customers pull out their coins for comparison unless you are watching carefully. In some cases, this could be used as a means of switching coins/paper money.
After removing an item from a showcase, immediately close the showcase and do not turn your back to customers.
At the close of each day, secure all inventory behind the table in a case(s) secured to the table, or in showcases or containers inside a zipped, locked table cover. Remove show credentials when exiting the bourse floor and do not talk about your business dealings in a public forum (restaurants, bars, etc.).
BREAKDOWN AND TRAVELING HOME
Move out is probably the riskiest time of all. Exhausted dealers (and collectors) are eager to leave and likely to be careless. Stay alert and limit distractions while packing up. Always be aware of your surroundings. Be cognizant of any suspicious persons or vehicles. Do not be complacent. DO NOT BE A VICTIM.
Make sure there is adequate security outside when loading. If making several trips to your vehicle, have someone watch your table and leave the most valuable load for last.
Before driving off, check your vehicle for any possible tampering, such as low tire pressure and leaking fluids.
Upon leaving, go directly on your route back to your home base or to the airport. Do not take inventory back to a hotel. Remember: a common technique used by thieves is to identify dealers at a show, then follow them to a parking lot, hotel, restaurant, etc.
When traveling by private vehicle, go in the opposite direction of your intended route, make a few turns to head in the right direction, and note if anyone is following you. If you suspect you are being followed, head to the nearest police station.
When traveling by car, avoid stopping, and don’t leave your vehicle unattended.
If traveling to an airport, consider using a trusted private transportation service, or arrange for an escort with show security.
When carrying coins in a briefcase, be alert in areas of congestion that may create an opportunity for theft (food lines, ticket lines, crowded subways, shuttles, elevators, etc.).
If a holdup does occur, obey the orders of the perpetrator. For your safety, never resist an armed robbery, cooperate fully, and never chase after the thieves. Keep calm and do as you are told.
For additional information, contact Robert Brueggeman, PNG Executive Director, 28441 Rancho California Road, Suite 106, Temecula, CA 92590. Phone: (951) 587-8300. Email: [email protected]. Online: www.PNGdealers.org.