Rolex rippers bbc

CORDER’S COLUMN: BBC’s Rolex Ripper doc glamorises violent crime

BBC accused of acting like a recruiting sergeant for a career stealing watches.

Victims took a back seat to puerile mistiness that paints dangerous watch thieves as modern day Robin Hoods stealing from the rich to feed the poor.

Hunting the Rolex Rippers aired on the BBC’s youth-focused channel, BBC3, this week and can be found on iPlayer.

The documentary by journalist Tir Dhondy is built around meetings with gang members, and particularly one of their leaders, the always-masked and voice-altered mastermind given the 007-inspired codename M.

Understandably excited to have been approached by these so-called Rolex Rippers via Instagram — violent crime being a route to social media celebrity, it seems — Ms Dhondy probes the gang members with questions about how they identify their victims using lowly-paid “spotters” in wealthy London hotspots, how they terrify them with two-foot long machetes into handing over their luxury watches, and how they feel about their crimes.

M is the star of the show. Flashing a, presumably stolen, Rolex Skydweller, he is allowed to paint himself as a victim of an uneven society, with his rich marks asking for trouble by flaunting their wealth with £20,000 watches. “That’s money on his wrist for me,” M insists.

At one point, M is being interviewed in what even he describes as a dodgy neighbourhood and calls for a minion to bring him his gun for protection.

The show’s hero and his interrogator slips away before unseen rival gang members close in.

Pure Hollywood.

Despite clips of appalling threats of violence, there is almost no mention of the impact on victims.

TV stars Spencer Matthews and Aled Jones feature as examples of those on the wrong end of these gangs, but this might make it even easier for BBC3’s audience to think of over-privileged victims as somehow asking for it.

In 2022, the program reveals, there was an estimated 60 per cent increase in watch thefts worldwide. It is now the crime of choice for many criminals, seen as easier and more lucrative than drug dealing, it adds.

Easy and lucrative, that is the takeaway from this BBC documentary about this terrifying crime.

Paul Thorpe, a watch dealer-turned social media journalist, says he is “disappointed” with what he described as a “fictional drama”, despite working with Ms Dhondy [without being credited] while she was researching the show.

In a Youtube video, he is joined by Scottish Watches co-host Rikki, who described it as “staged and fake”.

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