In Paris, thefts of luxury watches are on the rise

Camille is passionate about beautiful watches. Especially Rolexer. This 47-year-old Parisian who works in fashion owns a dozen. From “Pleasure shopping”, he explains, just as much as a financial investment. Inexhaustible on the magic of his vintage models and their ever-increasing value, Camille does not hide her frustration: “It’s really hot … but for a year, as soon as the weather is good and I’m in a T-shirt, I’ll replace my Rolex with a Seiko for 300 bucks …”

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Just last year, a month apart, one of his friends and his father were attacked in the lobby of their apartment building. A violent attack for the first, traumatic for the second of 70 years, who ironically was wearing a fake Rolex submarine bought in Ventimiglia (Italy).

Last week alone, we solved nine robberies with 20 remand prisoners and 12 jailers

Luxury thefts are nothing new in the capital. The Paris police have also had a specialized group since 2013. But the phenomenon has taken on a worrying scale since 2019 with more than 600 cases a year registered in Paris and the inner suburbs and rising numbers: + 24% in 2021; + 31% since the beginning of the year. “Last week alone, we solved nine thefts with 20 arrests in police custody and 12 incarcerations, including two minors.”, welcomes Commissioner Julien Herbaut. The head of Territorial Security, who is now mobilizing three groups of investigators on this issue, is taking the opportunity to send a prevention message to see owners: “If you feel you have been discovered and are being followed, take cover and call the police!” »

For a long time, these thefts were the privilege of international crooks with nimble fingers, often Algerians or Tunisians, who were able to rob the rich tourist with a smile and above all without violence. Rolex for 10,000 euros does not interest these cunning magicians, who rather aim for the distinctive Patek Philippe or Richard Mille for more than 100,000 euros. The Neapolitan school – which consists of stealing the watch from the motorist who lets his left arm lean against the open window – still has its followers, but it is the thefts with violence that explode the statistics today.

A patient identifies targeted individuals

The clips of rapper JRK 19 show tens of thousands of ” I like “ on social networks. The words of this young man from the 19th arrondissement pretty much sum up the philosophy behind these gangs of thieves: “I do not look at your ass, I look at your Rolex … Time is money, I run after your watch … We do not do MMA (no, no), but we squeeze your neck (yes) …” Everything is said or almost on the operating mode: a patient locating his target, spinning on foot, by scooter or car if the future victim is motorized, and a violent act in a place sheltered from wells, building hall and entrance to underground parking most tit. “They are at least two, Commissioner Herbaut explains, most often three, with a guard, the one snatching and the one practicing, sometimes until he faints, a choking key. »

Clear facts increased by 65% ​​between 2020 and 2021 to reach a clearing rate of 70%

According to the police officer, the profile of these thieves, mainly Rolexers with an average value of 15,000 euros, refers to young people aged 15 to 25 living in the peripheral districts of the capital or in the suburbs. Few or no first-time offenders among them. Most are already known for gang freaks or burglary. Therefore privileged access for recipients to dispose of the clocks, sometimes even before the complaint is filed.

A sign of the synergy established within the Paris police, all police stations have a complaint framework for herbal theft. The goal is especially to be able to follow the victim’s journey to identify the thieves who are spinning the CCTV images. “On each flight, we are immediately notified, insists the head of Territorial Security. We use all investigative techniques: video, technical and scientific police, telephony, etc. Clarified facts have increased by 65% ​​between 2020 and 2021 to reach a clearance rate of 70%, and the criminal response is strong. » Up to ten years in prison for aggravated theft. Rare, on the other hand, are watches. Except when it comes to copies or simple pictures on suspects’ phones.

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