People in the south of England have been warned to be vigilant if wearing high-value watches or jewellery after a spate of thefts by women approaching older men.
Several expensive watches have been stolen in the car parks of golf clubs and most victims have been lone men aged in their 70s.
Victims have described two women posing as charity workers with clipboards who have stolen watches from their victims without them realising as they sign a petition.
On other occasions they have been less subtle and simply ripped the watches off the wrists of men, who have been left shocked and bruised.
The duo, described as the “Rolex Rippers”, are believed to be operating in affluent areas of southern England and are thought to have struck at least 14 times including incidents in Poole, Wimborne, Wareham, Ferndown, Highcliffe and Poundbury in Dorset in the past two months.
Dorset police have not yet officially linked the thefts but have acknowledged “a number of incidents of a similar nature”.
PC Jim Perks, based in Christchurch, said: “We have had a number of incidents of a similar nature and I would again remind people to be vigilant and be particularly careful if you are wearing any high-value watches or jewellery and are approached in suspicious circumstances.”
One theft occurred in the car park of the £2,000 a year Ferndown golf club while another happened close to a golf club in Poole.
Alan Bruce, who lost his £14,000 gold Rolex, described the pair as “highly trained professionals”. The 63-year-old marine engineer was walking in Wimborne town centre on 15 July when he was approached.
He told Bournemouth News and Picture Service: “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 gabbed 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.”
Over the border in Hampshire there have been seven near-identical robberies in the past year, with two taking place in golf club car parks.
In July 2020 Hampshire police issued efit descriptions of two women who mugged a 78-year-old man of his Rolex in Emsworth. At the time police said there had been four similar thefts.
Both women are said to be aged in their 20s or 30s and between 5ft 2in and 5ft 9in tall. They have dark hair and eastern European accents although some victims have believed them to be Spanish.