An increase in smash-and-grab robberies at Melbourne jewellery stores has led to new security measures at a Bendigo jewellers this week.
Ruffell Jewellers has installed a new electronic lock on its Mitchell Street store “in light of the current situation within the jewellery industry”.
Co-owner Martin Ruffell said while it was a pity to have to take such steps, it was for personal safety.
“It’s just an added security measure for the comfort of our customers and for ourselves,” he said.
“It’s a means we felt needed to be taken at this time.”
The Mitchell Street store has never had an incident, but Melbourne jewellers have been plagued by smash-and-grab robberies for a number of months.
Mr Ruffell said he had mates in the business who had installed electronic locks along with smoke bombs in Melbourne.
The new lock will mean any customers to the store will need to press the doorbell, before staff can buzz them inside.
Mr Ruffell said the lock was the first in Bendigo, but it was commonplace in the industry.
“It might be unusual for Bendigo but it’s not for Melbourne,” he said.
“It’s a deterrent that’s all it is. It won’t stop the people who really want to get in here.”
The lock is just one of the security measures in place at the store, along with cameras and 24-hour monitoring.
In his more than 30 years in the jewellery business, Mr Ruffell said he had seen many changes in security over the years, remembering such a time when you could leave houses and buildings unlocked. He said the extra security measures were a sign of the times.
“Times change and you have to change with it,” he said. “These things are coming unfortunately.”
The new security measures also follow a string of burglaries and thefts in Bendigo and the wider region at the weekend.
A Rochester jewellery store and a California Gully Caltex were burgled on Monday morning and a cafe and the same service station were hit on Friday morning. The car involved in Monday’s burglaries was found burnt-out in East Bendigo.
Police are investigating both sets of events and believe two separate groups of offenders are involved.
Mr Ruffell said the burglaries reinforced the decision to install the lock.