End-Of-Year Cheer From MB&F: Watches Stolen Earlier In 2017 Recovered, 3 Countries Involved
by Ian Skellern
This is a bit of an unusual article, but the story surreptitiously fell into my lap(top) just days before Christmas, and I thought that there is no better time of the year for publishing good news. And highlighting the benefits of working together internationally.
Charris Yadigaroglou (he’s okay if we just call him Charris), MB&F head of communication, told me the happy ending to a scary incident earlier in the year at the MB&F M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva. As Charris explains, “It starts rather dramatically: as you may recall, a few months ago, our M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva was the target of an armed robbery. My colleagues were tied up and threatened at gunpoint by two well-dressed criminals posing as potential customers. Luckily no physical violence occurred, but my colleagues were understandably shaken, and the display windows and safe of the gallery were thoroughly emptied.
“The thieves took dozens of timepieces, including our ‘museum’ pieces no longer in production: the Horological and Legacy Machines that form the irreplaceable memory of our Horological Lab. In addition to the trauma caused by the incident itself, we were shattered by the material loss.”
The good news
“At the time, we received countless messages of support from our Friends around the world, which is why we owe you the story’s conclusion now. In a totally unexpected, surprisingly swift, and efficient turn of events, the police forces of Switzerland, France, and Belgium were able to patiently track the criminals across those three countries, all the way to Antwerp.
“In a final scene that seems taken directly from a B-movie, Belgian police – disguised as the boisterous fans of a local football team! – took the crooks by surprise and arrested them in a restaurant as they were preparing to sell their ill-gotten gains to a fellow thug. We were incredibly lucky: every single stolen timepiece was still with the gang and in decent condition despite some scratches and other minor damages.
“The final steps of the story took a little longer. Considered evidence in the following proceedings, our timepieces were seized by the Belgian authorities. The fact that the investigation covered three countries and their corresponding police forces and judicial systems did not speed up the process – but we finally received our precious Machines a few months later. A very happy conclusion to this crazy and hopefully unique story!”