Watchfinder staff were saved from a life-threatening attack this morning as a group of builders and restaurant workers thwarted an attempted robbery at its West End of London store.
A gang of six people on mopeds tried to break into the pre-owned luxury watch shop on Avery Row near Bond Street soon after 11am today (October 10).
The gang appeared to be armed with hammers, sledge hammers, axes and pickaxes, according to James Strouts, head of security at Watchfinder & Co.
They spent 30-45 seconds trying, unsuccessfully, to smash their way through the shop’s front door before being surrounded by a group of builders and restaurant workers from nearby.
Several of the gang were chased away, but one was held down and had his hands bound by the builders with cable ties.
Naz Prince, a construction worker, told the Evening Standard: “There were five or six on scooters, they had three sledgehammers and three axes, they were trying to smash the window.
“As we were struggling they said ‘stay back, we will cut you’. But workers with me got their shovels and tools and ran after them.
“One of our boys tied one up with cable ties and the others got on their bikes.”
Mr Strouts said that Watchfinder’s staff are all OK, and so are the customers who were in the shop at the time.
He thanked the members of the public who stepped in.
“I am grateful to local people for helping. It shows that people won’t stand for this. Hopefully it puts a dent in one of the groups terrorising London and the UK,” he told the Evening Standard.
A spokesperson for Met Police said Police in Westminster were called at around 11.13am on Tuesday October 10 following reports of a smash and grab raid at a watch store in Avery Row.
“At this early stage officers believe there were five suspects riding three mopeds, armed with a sledgehammer. All had helmets and balaclavas on.
“The men were seen to make an attempt to break the glass frontage of the shop but failed to do so.
“As they fled the scene, one of the men fell off his moped and was detained by a member of the public for a short time until officers arrived at the location.
“This man was arrested and taken to a central London police station where he currently remains in custody. The moped he was riding on was seized by police.
“There have been no reports of any injuries.”
The attack at Watchfinder is the second by armed gangs on scooters in less than 24 hours in London’s West End.
A gang escaped on a scooter from a raid on Mappin & Webb last night (September 9), and have not been caught.
If the raid on Watchfinder’s West End shop is confirmed, it will be the second attack in four months. A boutique in Leeds was broken into in July.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101. Alternatively contact crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111, or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.