A friend recently decided to buy a Rolex Hulk from a local seller. They agreed to meet in a public place. The seller was a no-show. My friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) returned to his house to discover he’d been burgled. The thieves stole his entire watch collection – multiple Rolex, a Royal Oak, two Jaegers and more. “They knew exactly how to get in, where to go and what to take” he reported. How? “Instagram.” In his lack of situational awareness for watch theft prevention he was not alone. bbc.co.uk:
A group of robbers in Milan known as the “acrobat thieves” monitored the Instagram pages of the city’s rich and famous in order to ransack their homes, prosecutors have revealed.
The group examined celebrities’ photos to find entry points, using tagged locations to find out where they lived and when they would be out . . .
The first robbery took place on 6 June last year, when the group stole about €150,000 (£132,000) worth of belongings from [Italian TV host Diletta] Leotta – including jewellery, designer handbags and Rolex watches.
The police eventually caught the bad guys – dubbed “acrobats” for scaling walls. So now you know one rule for watch theft prevention: it pays not to advertise. (Note to Ms. Liotta: it’s time to take the image off your Instagram account.)
There are [at least] three other rules for watch theft prevention. Ignore them at your peril, knowing that finding your home address on the internet is child’s play (one of the Italian thieves was 17).
1. Use Your Alarm System, Lock Up Your Watches
Home security is like ogres (and parfaits); good systems have layers. The first and most important layer: an alarm system. You have one, right? It doesn’t have to be connected to the cops, but you do have one, correct?
Opportunists and amateur criminals avoid alarmed houses, condos and apartments. Even if they don’t, they’re likely to scarper if an alarm goes off. True professionals will disconnect your alarm. Crazies don’t give a sh*t (they pose a much larger problem than watch theft).
The trick here: use your alarm system. Yes, when even when you’re popping down to the shops. If you keep getting false alarms, disconnect your interior sensors and get on with it.
Locking up your watches is your second layer. A good jewelry safe is a must for watch theft prevention, and not just as a second security layer (see: tip number three). The BlumSafe 301504 Luxury Watch Winder Wall Safe is an ace product (no commission on link) but any good safe will do. At the least it will slow down the pros.
The final layer is you. Anyone who breaks into your house while you and/or your family are in situ – what’s called a “hot burglary” – is a serious threat. You’ve got more important things to worry about than your watches, and no watch is worth your life. If you return to a burglarized abode, call the police and let them clear the house.
2. Avoid Wearing Your Nice Watch in Stupid Places at Stupid Times, Stay Alert Even AFTER You Get Home
We’ve posted on the life-threatening dangers of wearing an obviously expensive watch in public. Of course, not all public places are the same. Not all countries are the same. And an otherwise perfectly safe place – such as an upmarket bar in downtown Dallas – can become unsafe at 2am on a Saturday morning. Even if the bar remains cool, what about the parking lot where you left your car?
This is one reason I’m careful where I wear my XXXX or XXXX (see what I didn’t do there?) or travel with them abroad (when such things were done). I’m also wary when I get home, making sure I wasn’t followed and that the area is clear before disarming the house (remotely) and leaving the car. Paranoid? Gang of Rolex robbers tailed wealthy victims’ cars for miles after spotting valuable watches the sun.co.uk reports.
3. Do not assume the kindness (i.e., honesty and integrity) of strangers
We also reported about the “inside job” Rolex robbery suffered by a mono-monikered American expat model called Caprice. Common sense tells us that the work-people we invite into our homes are potential watch thieves – who probably aren’t professional safe crackers. It also suggests that the aforementioned watch safe lock-up strategy is an excellent way to eliminate horological temptation for a light-fingered friend-of-a-friend who left the dinner party to use the bathroom.
As my friend’s experience proves, they’re are some extremely clever scammers out there. Watch theft can also arrive – make that depart – via the mail, should you trust a seller to honor his or her pledge to pay cash-on-delivery. In general, trust no one and verify. After all, you worked hard to pay for your watches. And an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of lost timepieces.