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Harrods consultant thwarts switcheroo theft of £67,400 Audemars Piguet watch


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.

Audemars Piguet’s 18ct rose gold Royal Oak Offshore.

“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.


  1. Fine work by the sales consultant. Bravo! This should be a lesson to everyone that relatively few people can be trusted in today’s world. As an enthusiast for decades living in the US, I prefer buying my watches from a specific boutique in Geneva, the flagship of the manufacturer. The showroom is always secured and on more than one occasion I have been left alone with displays of extremely valuable pieces while the manager or consultant has left the room.

    As a former police officer from my college days, I remain rather uspicious of others. I mentioned my concerns to the manager and staff when they returned. They related since I was a very old patron of the house, and a friend of the founding family, they had no concerns.. They know me intimately. The manager said that they don’t do that for everyone, and that degree of trust made me quite humble. I went on to say, that no watch consultant or salesperson could possibly allow a client to be left alone in the US with hundreds of thousands of dollars of fine watches. They agreed. I offered a few suggestions to prevent product switches and thefts to management that the company soon adopted worldwide
    In short, we need to look out for each other in these increasingly unstable times. Know your customer!


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