‘Rolex ripper’ gangs stalk celebrity social media profiles before rare timepieces are stolen

‘Rolex ripper’ gangs are stalking celebrities’ social media profiles in search of rare and expensive watches before taking them by force.

The thugs, aware of the value of these timepieces, are robbing people on the street using knives and guns to pressgang victims into handing over their valuables.

The culprits then sell these on quickly with some being ‘stolen to order’ for people happy to buy big brands including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille on the black market.

The wealthy have been targeted, as have celebrities including former boxer Amir Khan, who was robbed at gunpoint leaving a restaurant with his wife in Leyton, east London, in April last year, though there is no evidence this was done to order or by a gang who do it regularly.

One expert says the trend has become so bad that ‘you can’t go out to dinner’ in parts of the capital and that people should be wary of flaunting their wealth on social media.

A gang dubbed the ‘Rolex Rippers’ went on a brutal 18-day crime spree in southwest London over Christmas 2021 and New Year 2022. 

Roshan Clark, pictured here posing with stolen watches, was one of a gang that terrorised people in southwest London with machetes while stealing valuable timepieces

Former boxer Amir Khan, pictured here with his wife Faryal Makhdoom, was robbed of his diamond-encrusted watch in east London last year

Former boxer Amir Khan, pictured here with his wife Faryal Makhdoom, was robbed of his diamond-encrusted watch in east London last year

Using machetes and Zombie knives, they terrorised victims in the capital into handing over their valuables.

The gang were caught by the Met’s Flying Squad after a high speed chase forced them to leave behind crucial evidence in their car.

Two of the gang, who are still awaiting sentencing, were found to have photos brazenly posing with their ill-gotten gains.

Alex Bomberg, chairman of security company Intelligent Protection International, told the Times watches like the ones the ‘Rolex rippers’ were after ‘have become portable assets’.

He told the publication: ‘They can be stolen to order or easily shifted on through the black market — maybe for one tenth or a fifth of their value,’

‘If they’re stolen to order it raises a number of issues; there could be street credibility for criminals who take a watch off a famous person’s arm and sell it to a collector who is happy to buy stolen timepieces.’

Among those targeted in similar fashion was former boxer Amir Khan, who had his £70,000 diamond-encrusted taken at gunpoint.

The 2004  Olympic silver medallist, 36, was targeted as he and his wife Faryal Makhdoom, 31, left the Sahara Grill restaurant in Leyton, east London, on April 18 last year.

Khan was robbed of this diamond-encrusted Franck Muller Vanguard Chronograph watch worth between £60,000 and £70,000

Khan was robbed of this diamond-encrusted Franck Muller Vanguard Chronograph watch worth between £60,000 and £70,000

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard how gunman Dante Campbell, 20, forced Khan to hand over his bespoke rose gold, diamond-encrusted Franck Muller watch worth between £60,000 to £70,000 that was gifted to him following a boxing match.

The Bolton-born boxer previously told the court the robber pointed a gun in his face and said: ‘Take off the watch.’

‘In that moment, you think the worst… that the kids could be growing up without their dad, that Faryal would be raising them on her own,’ he told the Sun on Sunday.

‘Your life flashes before your eyes. I leant my head to the right because I thought, if he is going to shoot me, he can shoot the side of my head. I don’t want to see the bullet coming.’

Gunman Campbell, from Hornsey in North London, and getaway driver Ahmed Bana, 25, from Tottenham, admitted conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of an imitation firearm during a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

They will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

One expert said gangs are using people’s social media profiles to track their whereabouts before deciding to target them.

Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International, told the Times: ‘Gangs are looking at them and thinking, ‘He’s staying at this hotel in London and he’s got these Hublot watches. Let’s wait for him to pop out and we’ll get him’ 

‘You can’t blame people for wanting to show off what they have but there simply aren’t enough police on the street these days. 

‘You can’t go out to dinner in Mayfair wearing a high-end watch. These robberies happen several times a week and thieves are becoming more violent.’

Commander Owain Richards, the Met’s lead for robbery and violent crime, told the paper: ‘I’m sorry for any victim we have let down in terms of a lack of effective and compassionate response. There is more to do. I’m not content with where we are with our detection rates and my mission is fewer robberies, more detection and less crime.

‘I want people to go about their daily lives — to go to the theatre, for dinner and enjoy this fantastic global city. Tackling robbery in all forms, particularly knife-enabled street-based robbery, is an absolute priority. We’re not going to solve this problem alone. We need the public, victims and witnesses to report these matters to us so we can improve the chance of arresting the suspects.’

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