Rolex GMT Master ‘Eye of the Tiger’ watch, valued at £13,500, stolen from Swiss Time Machine in London in 2016 and identified two months later by the Watch Register when offered for sale with 50 others stolen ones
PRESS RELEASE: JULY 2017
“The assistance provided by the Art Loss Register continues to be of great investigative value to police and contributes hugely to reuniting stolen goods with their rightful owners.”
Detective Constable Kevin Parley of the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad
A man has been jailed for dealing in high-value watches after the Art Loss Register’s (ALR) specialist service for watches – the Watch Register – identified his attempt to sell a stolen Rolex.
On Friday 23 June 2017, a dealer from Greater London operating around Hatton Garden, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment on two counts of Concealing and Converting Criminal Property.
On 21 March the previous year, the ALR had identified him selling a stolen Rolex worth £13,500 to a Hatton Garden dealer, who had checked the watch against the Watch Register before purchase. The watch was listed on the database as having been stolen during a brazen smash-and-grab in Mayfair, London, on 6 January 2016, when four men broke into the luxury watch store Swiss Time Machine brandishing knives, hammers and an axe, which they used to break open display cases, grabbing the expensive timepieces inside. They made off on mopeds with 81 watches valued at £1.1 million.
The thieves fled the scene on motorcycles but while being pursued by officers, one of the men was seen to discard a bag. When officers recovered the bag it was found to contain 41 watches from the robbery valued at £650,000. The man who discarded the bag of watches is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for the robbery. Shortly afterwards, the store owner supplied details of the outstanding 40 stolen watches to the Watch Register.
After checking the Rolex and hearing the news of its stolen status, the Hatton Garden dealer brought the watch and the seller to the Watch Register’s offices. The Watch Register called the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, who had been investigating the theft. Following a brief initial questioning, they arrested the seller and seized a further 27 watches that he was carrying in a plastic shopping bag. Later that day the Police searched his property and found a further 60 watches. In total, 50 of the watches seized from the suspect that day were identified as stolen, with a value of £113,450.
Over the course of the next year, Detective Constable Kevin Parley of the Metropolitan Police obtained records of the watches that had previously been sold by the dealer. He began to investigate the provenance of these watches with the close co-operation of the ALR, whose multi-lingual staff assisted in contacting watch manufacturers and police forces abroad, in addition to checking their own database to establish whether the watches had been registered. The searches carried out on these watches showed 56 of them to be stolen, with the dealer having been paid £180,000 for their sale. The actual retail cost of the watches would have been considerably higher.
DC Parley stated, “Despite purporting to be a small-time player on the watch dealing field, I compiled overwhelming evidence of handling stolen goods against him.” No provenance checks ever seem to have been carried out, and watches usually seem to have been purchased in cash with no invoice. The dealer had fenced watches from all types of thefts, including smash-and-grabs, residential burglaries, snatches and credit card frauds, with a significant quantity of the watches being sold by him between 1-14 days after the original offence. This was the largest discovery of stolen watches ever seen by the ALR in their 27 years’ experience in dealing with stolen property.
DC Parley concluded, “Each of the 106 stolen watches that he handled represents a victim of crime and I am pleased that the sentence handed down today reflects that.”
For the Metropolitan Police report please see: http://news.met.police.uk/news/man-who-sold-stolen-high-value-watches-jailed-248174
For more information on the smash-and-grab from Swiss Time Machine see: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/632038/armed-thieves-Mayfair-Time-Machine-watch-shop