6 Reasons You Would Have To Be An Idiot To Steal A Fine Watch
by John Keil
Seriously, let’s face it, criminals are flippin’ stupid!
Hopefully I didn’t offend you personally by saying that, but chances are I didn’t because somehow I don’t imagine Quill & Pad’s readers as thieves and murderers.
That said, let me provide details as to why I say that somebody has got to be an idiot to steal watches.
At around lunchtime on December 22, 2015 my mobile phone started buzzing with text messages and phone calls from industry friends asking, “Did you hear that Tourneau in Roosevelt Field got robbed?!?” and “Is Frank okay???”
Frank Rosado is an old friend and ex-colleague of mine who now manages the Rolex section of that store, a Tourneau that got held up by some idiot during which a mall employee got shot.
I am very happy to say that I texted Frank immediately and he replied with, “We’re all okay here.” Reports explained that the victim would recover. Thank God!
Here are 6 reasons why stealing watches (aside from the obvious) is a really bad idea and those who try probably won’t get away with it anyway.
Store deterrents: security cameras
Let’s face it: once you walk into a decent watch or jewelry store, you’re on film.
I am currently consulting for a store that is about 2,200 square feet and has no less than 30 cameras in and around the building.
These cameras feature both onsite and remote recording, which can be saved for months. Thieves might be wearing masks, but most of these idiots have been in their target stores within the previous 24-48 hours to case the joint.
If you’re looking to rob a store, be aware that your face has been on camera at the scene of the proverbial crime.
Just about any watch store (or jewelry store that carries fine watches) has one or more trained guards on hand.
In the case of the robbery described above, it was the security guard who wrestled the perpetrator and caught him.
I personally tell guards to be there to protect the people in the store, not to prevent the taking of product itself as the priority. The reason being is that stores are insured and will get reimbursed for lost product. The same can’t be said if someone gets hurt.
Virtually every store has a panic button every ten feet or so behind the counters and under desks.
These panic buttons send a silent distress signal directly to 911 as a store robbery in progress, meaning the place will be swarming with police officers within moments. Thankfully, in my 14 years in retail, I’ve never had to hit one, but I know people who have and they attest to the speed and effectiveness.
As a retail professional in the watch or jewelry industry, it is very wise for a store to have staff trained, and one of the best resources is the local police department.
I had one such training early on in my career and one of the key lessons I learned was to be aware of the surroundings outside of the store.
We made a habit of getting license plate numbers and pictures of suspicious vehicles. On one occasion, a white van was parked outside with a few people in it for a long time.
I called a local detective who told me to make sure we all stayed in the building and kept the doors locked.
Moments later a handful of squad cars pulled into the lot. The officers ascertained that the van’s occupants had been armed and that they had had drugs in the car. It’s impossible to say for sure if they were about to rob us, but if I had to guess, I’d say that they were.
Every watch costing more than a few hundred dollars has a serial number.
Idiots who steal watches will almost always go to another store or pawn shop to sell them for quick cash.
When a watch is stolen from an individual or a store, however, the serial number is passed on to property recovery detectives. What thieves are too stupid to know is that any place that would buy the watch from them is required to log it into a property recovery system with description, model number, and, yes, serial number.
They also have to take the thieves’ personal information from a valid form of photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport. If the serial number of a watch has been logged as stolen, the property recovery detectives will come in, seize the watch, and track down the perpetrator.
I’ve personally been in the middle of this multiple times as a store liaison to the police. This system is very effective!
By the way, even if the idiot thief removes the visible serial number, this number is often duplicated inside of the watch as well as the individual movement number.
Stolen watch registries
What every person who owns a fine watch should know is that most brands have an internal “stolen watch registry.” There are also brand independent stolen watch registries like The Watch Register and Stolen Watches.
If your watch gets stolen or is even just lost, you relay the model number and serial number to the brand. At some point, most watches get sent back for service to an authorized service center or to the brand directly, especially if the parts are proprietary.
The brand will seize the watch and return it to its rightful owner. Keep this in mind the next time a pair of hookers lift that $600,000 Greubel Forsey from your hotel room!
With all of these reasons not to ever steal a watch, somehow the world remains filled with imbeciles who keep on trying. Let’s just hope nobody gets hurt in the process.
lf you own or work for a fine retailer and would like further advice, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to help make our industry a better, safer place to work.
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Sadly this is not always the case. The story of Nicolas’s Lange Anniversary and Antiqorum is now a legend of a seller who didn’t do the right thing. You can find more on ThePuristsPro.
I am curious to know how Antiquorum fares after this, now legendary, business suicide…
Race car drivers have a concern. There have been reports of at least two bold robberies. Read my story on Hurley Haywood and his Rolex to prove a point. http://www.excellence-mag.com/issues/232/articles/hurley-haywood-s-mystery-watch#.V4OFrZD3aK0
Hello, Dom, thank you for posting the link to your story, which I find very interesting. However, to my knowledge until last year Rolex did not make or sell rubber straps. At all. This is mysterious indeed and worth investigating. Thanks again!
You are correct about the straps. Rolex made them specially for him and ONLY him. When he used up the straps provided, Rolex wouldn’t replace them (different president in place). I saw him in April and his watch had a bracelet.
How can one (individual or business) look up to see if a watch is stolen by its serial number? I thought the only way to tell was once it’s sent in to be serviced Rolex can see if it was reported stolen by the serial. I didn’t know individuals or business owners could also look this up. Do you have to be an authorized dealer to be able to have access to this list of stolen watches?
In addition, stolen watch registries, such as those mentioned in the article, shouldn’t just be used when your watch is stolen – it is good practice to search them prior to purchase (of pre-owned/vintage pieces) as another way of ensuring you aren’t buying stolen goods. The registries are limited in the number of pieces they have, but always worthwhile to check them – you never know what might turn up. I have created the Alpha Hands stolen watch registry (https://alphahands.com/faq/stolen-watch-registry-database/), which is free to both search and post, to help the community.