Luxury Watch Thefts Targeted in Undercover London Police Operation

The Metropolitan Police have revealed covert tactics used to catch criminals stealing luxury watches worth around £4 million across London, reported by Sky News. As described in newly released footage, undercover officers posed as wealthy visitors in areas like Soho, purposely wearing expensive Rolex and Patek Philippe watches to entice thieves. When thieves took the bait, attempting to steal the watches, they were forcibly detained on camera.


From April to September 2022, over 300 high-value watches were stolen across three boroughs. 


Police investigations found thieves were targeting intoxicated men leaving late-night venues in wealthy neighbourhoods. The criminals would offer victims illegal services and then lead them into alleys, violently snatching expensive timepieces worth up to hundreds of thousands each.


In covert footage, a thief is surrounded by undercover officers before being tasered and tackled. In another clip, two men attempting to steal a watch are tasered after earlier offering an officer drugs. Across the three boroughs targeted, robberies increased 4% to nearly 2,000 total offences last year.


“With robbery rising yearly, we are talking to insurance companies and high net-worth individuals about solutions. This can include not storing watches at home, which can make it a target,” said Troy Hewitt, CEO of consultancy Assist Security Group (ASG). 


“Proper protocols can make all the difference in keeping people and property safe. Companies also need proper precautions to protect staff and advise them of the dangers they can encounter. 


In 2022, 31 per cent of robberies took place in one per cent of the area – the Soho entertainment district. Following undercover operations, the summer of 2023 saw watch robberies halved. So far 27 suspected thieves have been charged, with 21 convicted and sentenced to a total of 26 years imprisonment.


Yet luxury watch thefts continue plaguing London, having nearly doubled since 2015. In 2022, over 11,000 cases were reported across England and Wales, primarily targeting intoxicated victims. While opportunistic, gangs intentionally identify vulnerable individuals to rob. Police advise caution in displaying expensive items to avoid becoming a victim.


As Hewitt concludes, “ASG tailors robust security specifically to risks. With rising crime, specialised defence has become a priority for hotels, event and tourist locations, retailers and more.”


For professional corporate security to protect your people, assets and interests, contact Assist Security Group for information or to book a free security audit to assess vulnerabilities in your organisation by speaking with one of our security experts in confidence. Act now to gain actionable insights that enable you to secure your people, property and profits. Email: or call 0208 543 6670.

Share the Post:

Sign Up For Our Newsletter