Jewellery Store Tragedy Highlights the Critical Importance of Employee Welfare

London has become a hotspot for increasingly brutal attacks by organised gangs targeting luxury watches, according to Christopher Marinello, a London-based lawyer known as the “stolen watch detective” – as reported in the Daily Telegraph. The recent violent robbery at a jewellery store in Richmond, where a shop worker was put in a chokehold, is just the latest in an alarming trend that has left victims traumatised and businesses on high alert.


Marinello, who has made a career of tracking down stolen high-value items, particularly rare watches, is alerted to a new case in the city nearly every week. He has recovered dozens of watches stolen in the UK, retrieving millions of pounds worth of goods for clients. However, the hardest part is often getting auction houses on the Continent to return the pieces.


In one case, Marinello located a client’s stolen £260,000 Richard Mille watch at Swiss auction house Antiquorum. Despite being provided the serial number, the auction house returned the watch to the consignor, and it disappeared. Another client’s £40,000 Patek Philippe, stolen in 2019, was auctioned by Antiquorum in 2022 without informing the buyer it was stolen.


The Richmond robbery reflects the rising violence of watch thieves in London. The attack left the victim, 27-year-old Oliver White, so distressed he reportedly took his own life the next day. The culprits, who stole £2.8 million in goods, are still at large.


Marinello says London police show little sympathy for victims of watch theft, handing out crime numbers but rarely investigating. This leaves a void his business fills, tracking watches as they move from thieves to middlemen to auction houses.


Soaring prices in the secondhand market have fueled the trade. Watchmakers’ strategies to build demand, like limited releases, have dramatically increased the value of pre-owned and vintage pieces in the past decade. The rise of outdoor dining has also aided thieves, who prey on distracted patrons.


Gangs employ an array of tactics, from “spotters” at restaurants to women who flirt with targets as a distraction. Some well-known figures, like Nadja Swarovski and Kevin Pietersen, now avoid wearing jewellery and watches in public in London due to the risk.


Troy Hewitt, CEO of Assist Security Group (ASG), a leading provider of bespoke security solutions, commented on the issue: “The increasing brutality of these attacks is deeply concerning. It’s not just about the financial loss; it’s the emotional trauma inflicted on victims and the growing sense of insecurity in the city.”


ASG, with its extensive experience in luxury retail security, has been working closely with clients to develop comprehensive strategies to mitigate risks. “Our approach is proactive and tailored to each client’s unique needs,” Hewitt explained. “By combining cutting-edge technology, intelligence gathering, and highly trained personnel, we aim to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place.”


Marinello warns that London is gaining a reputation akin to Barcelona for muggings, potentially deterring visitors. He advises always ensuring valuable items, using tamper-resistant watch clasps, reporting thefts so serial numbers can be flagged, and avoiding showing off watches in public settings.


“As the problem worsens, those who still want to wear luxury timepieces in the city must be more vigilant than ever,” Marinello cautions. “Failing to take precautions with a high-end watch is like fanning yourself with hundred-pound notes.”


Assist Security Group: Your Trusted Partner in Luxury Retail Security


ASG offers a range of specialised services to protect luxury retail stores, including:


– Bespoke security planning and risk assessments

– Experienced security personnel for on-site protection

– Close protection services for high-profile individuals

– Advanced CCTV monitoring and analytics

– Corporate intelligence and investigations


You may be reviewing your security plans, looking to resolve a specific risk issue or just want to know what’s new in loss prevention. ASG’s interactive Coffee & Catch-Up is an opportunity to find out about the options and opportunities for the safety and security of your business this year – Email: or call 0208 543 6670

Share the Post:

Sign Up For Our Newsletter