Sussex Police are appealing for witnesses to a robbery in Eastbourne in which watches worth around £21,000 were stolen from a 67-year-old man.
The victim reported being approached by two men at around 4pm on Friday, November 12, in Gildredge Park. He was assaulted by one of the men, causing him facial injuries.
The pair made off towards the bowling green with a bag the victim dropped, which contained 12 collectible watches withdrawn from a safety deposit box earlier that afternoon.
Both men are described as being white, in their 20s and around 5’8” tall. The assailant was described as having bright blonde hair.
It follows Surrey Police issuing a warning to Rolex watch owners about thieves posing as charity workers who are targeting people in the county.
Since July 2021, the force has received eight reports of thefts of high-value watches. In each case, the suspect used distraction techniques to slip the watch from the victims’ wrists.
In some cases, the victim was asked for the time, then followed to a quieter location where there was likely to be a lack of CCTV cameras before the suspect targeted them again and stole their watch. Victims have also been approached in supermarket car parks and even at a golf club.
The suspects for the cases reported so far have been women posing as charity workers. In one incident they approached the victim with a clipboard with the NHS logo on and asked them to sign a petition.
T/DCI Dave Bentley - Surrey Police
T/DCI Dave Bentley said, “We want to raise public awareness of this emerging crime type in our community."
“Criminals are targeting preying upon the good nature of their victims and using distraction techniques to slip the watch right off their wrist. These watches are often of significant financial and sentimental value."
T/DCI Dave Bentley continued: "The best form of prevention is awareness, so please pay attention to your surroundings when out in public. If you have concerns that someone is falsely representing themselves as a charity worker, ask them for identification."
"If they cannot provide any or cannot verify who they are, call 101 and raise your concerns with us.”