Undercover Police Now Wearing Fake Rolexes to Catch Thieves in London
Thanks to trends in pop culture, music, and a host of athlete endorsements, there’s no hiding your expensive watch anymore. Carrying around a yearly salary on your wrist is more dangerous than ever and even those with infinite access, money, and security aren’t exempt from a case of good old-fashioned daylight robbery – just ask Lando Norris or Charles Leclerc.
While most jurisdictions couldn’t give a rat’s arse about your expensive watch, officers in London’s expensive West End have had enough. They’re sporting fake Rolexes and hanging around the top nightclubs and restaurants ready to arrest anyone who attempts to steal the watches (see video below).
Most importantly, it’s working. The command conducted two operations over several months in both 2022 and 2023 where 27 people were arrested and 21 were later convicted. Further data provided at a briefing states that watch robberies in three central London boroughs: Westminster; Kensington and Chelsea; and Hammersmith and Fulham reduced from 113 to 55 in the year to July 2023.
“This was a successful operation, primarily down to the bravery of our officers who volunteered to stand alone in dark streets in the middle of the night, waiting to be robbed,” said Ben Russell, the Met’s commander for intelligence. “These criminals are hanging outside bars and clubs as people leave these venues, hoping to target people who may be intoxicated and therefore vulnerable.”
As for the specific watches they’re targeting, it doesn’t seem to matter. “They’re not stealing people’s fakes – they are targeting original, genuine, expensive watches. They’re getting right up in people’s faces, they’re man-handling victims, they’re spending quite a bit of time talking to victims to make sure they know what they’re stealing.”
“They’re looking for any luxury watch that can be resold for a high value. There isn’t one particular brand that stands out – but you see the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe… they can be worth anything from £10,000 to upwards of £100,000.”
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