Hampstead antiques dealer hit by dramatic £200k vintage watch heist
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A Hampstead antiques dealer is offering a large cash reward to anyone who can help trace thieves who made off with £200,000 worth of vintage collector’s pocket watches.
More than 120 watches, dating back to the early 1700s, were stolen from the Vintage Watch Store, based in the Hampstead Antique & Craft Emporium, in Heath Street, on Saturday around 9.30am.
The store’s owner Simon Drachman, 53, said the heist had all the hallmarks of a “burglary to order” and drew parallels with the Hatton Gardens Safety Deposit robbery earlier this month when burglars made off with £200million worth of jewels by drilling into a basement vault containing safe deposit boxes.
“They came in through the air conditioning system,” said Mr Drachman. “One of them undid the outer casing of the old air conditioning system and forced his way through the disused ventilation shaft to get into the building.
“I think it’s a copycat of the Hatton Gardens heist.”
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CCTV footage from the store shows a hooded man crawling along the floor – to avoid triggering infra-red security beams – and then unpicking locks to cabinets containing the vintage watches.
The thief targeted a specific selection of historic pocket watches, leaving behind around 600 watches, including Rolex, Breitling and Omega wrist watches.
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“You might call this burglary to order,” said Mr Drachman. “It was a tailored, audited burglary. It has to be when you have very valuable watches like Rolexes and Breitlings left behind.
“He was obviously told what to take. You don’t do that unless you have instructions.”
The theft lasted about eight minutes in total, with the security alarm going off throughout, before the burglar made off in a waiting getaway car.
“It’s not possible to insure that kind of stuff which is why we are offering a substantial reward for any information,” said Mr Drachman.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Det Con Adele Joyner on 020 8733 6913 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.