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Men with expensive watches told to be careful as ‘Rolex Rippers’ strike again

The term has been applied to usually attractive Eastern European-accented women who use 'honeytrap' methods to distract men

Police have released images of the 'Rolex Rippers' at work

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Police have issued a warning to the owners of expensive watches to be on their guard, after the ‘Rolex Rippers’ struck again.

The term has been applied to usually attractive Eastern European-accented women who use “honeytrap” methods to distract men while their stealing their expensive timepieces.

The crime ring allegedly stole watches worth more than £1 million in the last year as they targeted the affluent areas of Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Surrey.

Now, police say they have reappeared after two women pretending to be cleaners stole a valuable watch from a resident's wrist after knocking on the front door.

Police have warned other people to beware of the “distraction” thefts after the robbery in Trenchard Avenue, Wendover.

“On answering their front door, the person turned to get a piece of paper and the women followed them into the property,” police revealed.

“One of the women wrote a number on the piece of paper and the other hugged the person with force before they left the property.

The Rolex Rippers target obviously wealthy OAPs leaving posh golf clubs

“The person then realised their watch had been stolen from their wrist and they had been left with bruising.”

Police describe the two women as white, in their early twenties and approximately 5ft 9in tall.

They were wearing similar dark or black coats with dark trousers and wore white lace-up trainers, which looked brand new. Both spoke with Eastern European accents.

They are thought to have allegedly struck more than 50 times last year.

The spate of thefts is expected to escalate as temperatures rise and short-sleeve weather returns, leaving watches easily exposed.

Last year, most of the crimes took place after April, with many reported at exclusive golf clubs whose wealthy members tend to unknowingly 'advertise' their watches.

In January a 64-year-old man was taken to hospital with serious injuries after being attacked by two thieves who snatched his Rolex watch.

He was badly hurt in the robbery in South Coast Road, Peacehaven, said Sussex Police.

It came after several forces including Sussex warned before Christmas about 'Rolex Ripper' thieves operating across south and west England, preying on obviously wealthy OAPs for their watches.

In the December alert, police urged wealthy elderly men about women strangers - sometimes dressed as nurses.

The Rolex Rippers target obviously wealthy OAPs leaving posh golf clubs or outside upmarket stores like Waitrose, checking to see if they are wearing the expensive timepieces on their wrists.

In one police force area alone - Hampshire - more than 30 thefts have been reported in the last 16 months, with all the victims targeted because they are wearing high value Rolex watches.

But there may be many more elderly men who have been robbed but are too embarrassed to come forward and admit they were tricked.

Some could be terrified their wives might learn how they were open to chat-up lines from women strangers.

It's thought the women - thought to be Eastern Europeans - have netted watches worth more than £1 million in the last year, with many more thefts reported in Gloucestershire, Dorset, Sussex, Devon and Cornwall.

Dorset Police issued CCTV pictures taken in October of two women aged about 40 and 20 with 'dark hair' and 'eastern European accents' who 'embrace' their victims and take the designer watches using sleight of hand techniques.

Hampshire Police said some victims reported the women claimed to be doing a survey or a petition.

“They often use a clipboard as a prop to make themselves appear genuine.

“Once the survey has been completed, the suspects often compliment the victim and try to embrace them, with reports suggesting they may try to hug or kiss them.

“It is during this time that the item, usually a watch, is removed using sleight of hand techniques.

“The suspects are then spotted leaving the area in a vehicle.

“The desired target locations seem to be near golf courses and supermarket car parks.

“However, some offences have also taken place outside residential properties.”

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