Knife-wielding moped robbers are exploiting the longer days and busier streets to target West End shoppers in a crimewave which has seen hundreds of designer watches stolen this year, police have warned.
Shocking footage emerged this week of a man and a woman having their watches violently snatched in broad daylight in Chelsea, west London, by a masked gang armed with knives.
The attack, filmed by an onlooker on Monday, shows the woman lying in a doorway trying to fend off one balaclava-clad man, while another is repeatedly punching her male companion in the face.
Just a day earlier, near Hyde Park Corner, a thief on a moped disguised as a Deliveroo driver was filmed smashing the window of a £3 million Bugatti hypercar with a hammer and stealing the driver’s rare Rolex.
The £110,000 watch belonged to Abdullah F. Al Basman, the Kuwaiti millionaire, who is seen in viral footage of the attack being helped out of his smashed vehicle.
Thieves have been known to lurk outside luxury hotels to swoop on wealthy guests carrying valuables and it is believed Mr Al Basman had been similarly tailed after leaving The Berkeley Hotel, where he had been staying.
Other recent victims include a couple who had their Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe watches, worth up to £210,000, stolen by a moped rider with a machete in a Chelsea conservation area, as well as a two people targeted separately in the space of just an hour in Chelsea on July 4.
There were 621 watch robberies in the capital between the start of the year and July 14, the Metropolitan Police said, 32 per cent of which took place in the well-heeled neighbourhoods of Chelsea and Belgravia or the West End.
The problem appears to be spiralling. There was a 60 per cent spike in the number of watch thefts committed across Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham between May and June, compared to April and May, according to the force.