Police across the south of England are trying to identify a link between a slew of robberies where two young women are targeting elderly men at golf clubs to steal their expensive watches.
The two women, who have been dubbed the “Rolex Rippers” by newspapers, are thought to have struck at least 14 times at clubs in Dorset, Hampshire and Southampton as well as in town centres.
Police have described the women as aged in their 20s or 30s and between 5ft 2ins and 5ft 9ins tall with dark hair and Eastern European accents.
Police at several forces are urging elderly men to take care, particularly while leaving their golf clubs wearing expensive timepieces.
The Daily Telegraph reports that several of the thefts have been in car parks of exclusive golf clubs and the vast majority of victims have been male pensioners.
It is reported that the pair of women have often posed as charity workers in town centres with clipboards (sometimes, ironically known as chuggers or charity muggers) and have stolen watches using magician’s sleight of hand from their victims as they fill in paperwork.
There have also been more violent incidents where expensive watches have been forcefully ripped from their owners’ wrists.
Alan Bruce, quoted in the Daily Telegraph report, said he was robbed of his £14,000 gold Rolex watch by the women he described as “highly trained professionals” who who he suspects are part of a wider gang.
Mr Bruce described how he was approached by the pair in Wimborne town centre on July 15. “One had a clipboard and the taller one was making out she was deaf and they wanted signatures for a petition for a new deaf centre.
“I signed it with my left hand, which was the same hand my watch was on, and one of them then grabbed hold of me and went to hug me. I straight away put my hand on my pocket where my wallet was and pushed her off and walked away.
“I walked around the corner and realised they had taken my watch. By the time I went back they had gone. It was just a few seconds so they must have had a car waiting for them.
“These women are highly trained professional dippers who know what they are doing. They are probably part of a bigger gang from London and are targeting soft targets in affluent areas of the south.”
Incidents have been reported dating back to May 19 at Stoneham Golf Club near Southampton, Wellow Golf Club near Romsey in Hants and close to Parkstone Golf Club near Poole in Dorset.