Jewellery and watch shops are being hit by violent gangs, fraudsters and opportunist smash-and-grab criminals 50% more often this year than last, and now jewellery giant Pandora has joined a long line of jewellery retailers falling victim to this ongoing problem.
On Friday, Sept 14, five men wearing balaclavas and hooded tops broke into Pandora’s store in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, at midnight.
The raiders, armed with crowbars, forced their way into the store and left with around £100,000 worth of jewellery.
According to the BBC, the gang smashed the store’s glass cabinets and emptier contents into waste bags.
They then left using a fire escape and walked across a roof, before climbing down to street level and making off.
This year has seen a rise in jewellery stores falling victim to theft, with a boutique in Wimbledon hit by a daylight lightening raid the day before Pandora’s heist.
High profile raids involving gangs on mopeds at Watches of Switzerland, Boodles, Watchfinder and Mappin & Webb over the past year are among 24,294 reported crimes in the 12 months to April reported to London’s Metropolitan Police.
In Oxford alone, the jewellers have been subject to a number of raids including one in which two men asked to try a £27,650 Rolex watch in Goldsmiths, before snatching the jewellery and running off with it.
The shocking rise in watch and jewellery incidents has been recorded by nationwide security specialist UK Protection, which says that Rolexes, in particular, have become a tradeable currency within a criminal underworld that is taking greater risks as the chances of arrest fall.
Talking to our sister publication, WatchPro, Andy Fairbanks, managing director for UK Protection and a former police officer of 12 years, says that police budget cuts are making it less likely for thieves to be caught, which is emboldening them to ramp up their activity.
Experts are warning jewellers to check their security – and tighten it if need be – and first and foremost ensure staff are well-trained to deal with armed robberies.