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Appeal following high-value watch robberies in central London

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Appeal following high-value watch robberies in central London

Detectives investigating high value watch robberies in central London are appealing for the public’s help to identify those responsible.

Over recent weeks the number of knifepoint robberies where victims have been threatened to hand over their watches has increased, often by suspects on mopeds and e-bikes.

A targeted operation has been launched by officers in the area to tackle these robberies head on and prevent them from taking place.

In Central West BCU, which includes Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham, there were 42 watch robberies of this type between 26 April and 30 May. In the following four weeks (31 May to 27 June), 67 offences were recorded, an increase of more than 60 per cent.

Detective Chief Superintendent Owain Richards, in charge of policing for Central West BCU, said: “We want people living in and visiting our city to enjoy the summer safely – no-one should have to go about their day in fear of thieves.

“Sadly across Westminster and neighbouring boroughs we are seeing a rise in these offences as criminals take advantage of the longer days and the busy streets.

“We know the impact these crimes have on each and every victim and that is why we have this week launched an operation focused on tackling this issue. Extra officers have been put in place in locations where these crimes are most common, including those from specialist units like our Operation Venice teams.

“This is a top priority for us and we have already made a number of arrests, but we need your help. As well as asking people to report these robberies as soon as they happen, we know lots of these offences are recorded on mobile phones or doorbells and we are keen to see this footage.

“Please, if you have anything that shows a street robbery taking place, get in touch with us. Anything that helps us build up a picture of individuals carrying out these crimes could be crucial to us finding them and putting a stop to their abhorrent behaviour.”

Recent offences include:

- Boltons Conservation Area, Chelsea, on Tuesday, 12 July:

At around 10:10hrs a couple were followed by a moped rider who threatened them with a machete. They were forced to hand over their Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe watches.

- Mallord Street, Kensington and Chelsea, on Monday, 4 July:

At around 21:54hrs, two people on a motorbike approached a woman and threatened her with a knife, forcing her to handover her watch and bracelet, before fleeing the scene.

- Oakley Street, Kensington and Chelsea, on Monday, 4 July:

Between 21:00 and 22:00hrs, two people on a motorbike knocked down a man, aged in his 50s. While he was on the ground one of them produced a knife and took his Rolex watch, believed to be worth around £20,000. His wedding ring was also stolen. He suffered no serious injuries.

Anyone who has footage or information about these cases – or any street robberies – should call 101 quoting Operation Furbish.

During the summer, London, like many other cities across the UK, will see increased footfall. Bigger crowds of people and more densely-packed streets create a more agile operating ground for street robbers.  

Alongside proactive operations, we have dedicated teams of officers and detectives focus on responding effectively to reports of robbery as they happen on a daily basis. They work to attend to calls quickly, search the area with victims and witnesses for suspects, secure CCTV and forensic evidence.

People should remain aware of their surroundings, look up and look out and where possible keep valuables out of sight. It is also vital that people call the police and report it at the time so we can catch those responsible quickly.

More advice can be found on our website