After watch crime fell to a historic low during the pandemic, data from UK police forces, acquired by certified pre-owned luxury watch retailer, Watchfinder & Co., reveals that watch crime hit a peak in 2022, with a total of 15,058 watches reported as being stolen, the highest number of cases in two years, with the average value of the watch reported to be stolen at £1,345.
In the past 12 months, over 6,000 watches were reported stolen in London alone, with £162million worth of watches being stolen across the capital over the last five years.
The police data is underpinned by new research from Watchfinder & Co. which reveals two thirds (65%) of those surveyed agree the increase in thefts has made them more vigilant when wearing their watch1 and a third (36%) want to do more to protect their watch against theft1.
Following these insights, Watchfinder & Co. has launched a campaign to help tackle watch crime for good. Consisting of two simple steps – the first being for watch owners to register timepieces as soon as purchased to help protect against theft, and the second to encourage pre-owned retailers to authenticate all stock as standard – the pre-owned specialist aims to make it much harder for thieves to sell on stolen watches, therefore making it a less profitable crime.
As a pre-owned specialist, Watchfinder & Co. has had years of implementing standard procedures that check and authenticate all stock that comes through its doors and hopes to spearhead change in the pre-owned sector by encouraging all pre-owned retailers to follow suit. Now, responding to calls from two-thirds (63%) of Brits seeking new technologies to help reduce crime1, Watchfinder & Co. has partnered with the new, free-of-charge, digital platform Enquirus to help reduce watch theft-related crime. Designed in close collaboration with a wide range of partners, including watch manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, the pre-owned market and clients the platform allows watch owners and industry partners to register, declare and search for lost and stolen watches. By simply registering a watch on Enquirus, experts and retailers are connected which increases the chance of recovery and helps quickly reunite people with their timepieces anywhere in the world.
In addition, through the search function, customers considering purchasing a pre-owned watch can also check the database and ensure that it is not a stolen item prior to purchase.
With this partnership, CEO of Watchfinder & Co., Arjen van de Vall, is also urging all pre-owned retailers to follow suit and thoroughly check their stock to help stamp out the growing problem of watch crime. Tracing and authenticating stock must become standard industry practice.
Commenting on the findings and the increasing number of watch thefts Arjen van de Vall, CEO of Watchfinder & Co., says: “It is disturbing to see the rate at which watch thefts have been rising in the UK. At Watchfinder & Co., we’re hoping to break the cycle between theft and re-sale by encouraging all customers to register their timepieces, as well as inspire all other pre-owned retailers to implement thorough checking processes for their stock. With these steps in place, we can help ensure the pre-owned sector is a safe and trustworthy place to shop. At Watchfinder & Co., we believe in the value of purchasing pre-owned and pride ourselves on the procedures we’ve developed to provide customers with authentic timepieces they can treasure. With crime on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to purchase from trusted retailers. If considering a pre-owned purchase, do your research and check the retailer has thorough processes in place to trace and authenticate stock to give you peace of mind.”
Of those who have had watches stolen, 68% believe their timepiece was sold on1. Over a 12 month period, Watchfinder & Co. successfully stopped the re-sale of over 200 stolen watches that came through its doors thanks to its stringent inspection, authentication and preparation process which are carried out by in-house watch experts and backed by 19 of the world’s largest watch manufacturers. The partnership with Enquirus allows the retailer to build on its existing expertise to build further credibility and assurance with customers.
Also joining forces with Watchfinder & Co. is a two-time world boxing champion, Amir Khan, who notably had a custom-made Franck Muller timepiece stolen in April last year. Amir says: “The surge in watch crime in the UK is truly shocking. Following my recent experience, I have partnered with Watchfinder & Co. to help combat the problem head-on. If we make it tougher for thieves to sell on stolen timepieces, we can help reduce crime altogether. A few simple steps can make all the difference. For example, you should register your watch on platforms such as Enquirus as soon as you get it and report any theft immediately. If you do this, as well as ensure any pre-owned models are purchased from a trusted retailer, we’ll be on the right path to making thieves’ lives more difficult.”
Commenting on the findings, former Detective Chief Superintendent, Steve Wilkins, said: “With watch crime having been particularly prevalent in the UK last year, it’s no wonder Brits want to do more to protect their possessions against thieves. Data from UK police forces show that watch crime is at its highest point in two years, with most counties seeing an increase in watch crime year-on-year. Of those that have had watches stolen, more than three-quarters (78%) say that their timepiece was never recovered. It’s time for us to do more to protect our watches and help combat watch theft once and for all. The partnership between Watchfinder & Co. and Enquirus is a positive step in the right direction to help make stolen watches too hot to handle and more difficult to sell on.”