An eagle-eyed sales consultant at Audemars Piguet’s boutique in Harrods has been credited with foiling thieves attempting to steal a £67,400 Royal Oak Offshore watch.
The 18ct gold timepiece was swiped in a sleight-of-hand scam by a Romanian couple who switched the genuine watch they were pretending to buy with a fake hidden in the hood of their six-year-old son’s coat.
A day after the theft, which took place in September, the AP consultant spotted that the watch’s dial did not look right and that it was missing its serial number.
During the trial at Southwark Crown Court, prosecutor Dominic Hockley said the Royal Oak Offshore was “a convincing fake, but a fake nevertheless.”
The court heard how the accused, Ilie Para and Marta Para-Bloj (pictured top), visited Harrods Fine Watch Room twice over five days in September.
On the first occasion they took photographs of the Audemars Piguet watch from several angles while it was on display.
“They walked around the store going through numerous watch boutiques and they eventually settled on the AP concession stand,” Mr Hockley described. “They photographed one timepiece from various angles before leaving. This was plainly a reconnaissance mission, ” he added.
When the couple returned, Mr Para tried on the watch but, when the AP consultant turned her back, he swapped it for a fake that was in his son’s coat.
When the fake watch was discovered, police were called and the couple were identified from CCTV footage.
They were arrested in Dover, and Mr Para was discovered to be wearing the AP watch on his wrist.
Having been found guilty of the theft, the couple were remanded in custody before sentencing on December 14.