Watchfinder’s boutique in Leeds was raided by an armed gang last night. It is the second time in five months that the Victoria Quarter store has been robbed.
The pre-owned luxury watch specialist’s central London shop was also attacked by a gang in October.
The Leeds raid took place at around 6.45pm on November 8. Local newspaper Yorkshire Post said that police had received reports that the gang were carrying firearms.
A statement from Watchfinder said the number of participants in the robbery cannot yet be clarified, but it is believed the thieves carried a large concrete block through the arcade before using it to smash their way into the store. Reports suggesting the thieves were armed cannot be verified.
At the time of the raid, the store was preparing to close and the staff that were inside the building moved to a safe room within the store and activated alarms and a fog bandit as well as notifying the police as soon as the thieves entered the building. Nobody was injured during the attack.
Matthew Bowling, director of Watchfinder, said that the store’s Fog Bandit security system activated, making it difficult to see exactly how the raid unfolded.
“Our Leeds store was raided again this evening at 18;45, just before closing,” Mr Bowling said.
“Nobody was hurt. We don’t know how many people there were or how they were armed because the Fog Bandit obscured the CCTV images.”
Watches worth around £150,000 were stolen, and the trade and public is being urged to look out for the following models.
Anybody with information regarding the raid or the stolen watches should contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Watchfinder is calling for the entire watch industry to improve the way it works with pre-owned luxury timepieces after a spate of robberies across the UK.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the watch industry needs to rethink the way we deal with stolen watches. We must make it much easier to check the history of a watch before buying it. If we can do that we will make it harder to sell stolen watches and that in turn should reduce the commercial appeal of this kind of violent and traumatising crime. We have published the stolen watch serial numbers and urge watch buyers to be vigilant when purchasing a watch on the used market,” says Mr Bowling.