'Knife-wielding gang attempts to steal watches from group in Mayfair' as ride-by moped thefts rise

4 September 2022, 19:18 | Updated: 4 September 2022, 20:10

Police responded to reports of an attempted robbery in Bruton Street, London.
Police responded to reports of an attempted robbery in Bruton Street, London. Picture: Google Maps

By Sophie Barnett

A "knife-wielding" gang of thugs allegedly tried to steal watches from a group of friends in Mayfair, as ride-by moped thefts sweep across the capital.

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Amid a wave of violent thefts of watches in central London, the Met said they responded to an attempted robbery in Bruton Street, Westminster, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The suspects - who were riding a moped - were not located.

According to reports online, the group of friends were "attacked with a machete" by "moped-riding thugs", who were believed to be trying to pinch their watches.

The man and two women, who left Socialista bar in the early hours, realised they were being followed and took their watches off, hiding them in one of their bags.

The man ran off in a different direction in a bid to distract the suspects.

It's alleged the thugs threatened to kill one of the victims, however police have not confirmed these reports.

Read more: Terrifying moment woman 'held at knife point by thieves attempting to steal watch'

Read more: Watch robbery victim urges others to be vigilant amid high value timepiece crime wave

Officers said it was alleged the suspects had a large knife, which witnesses described as a "machete".

Nothing was stolen in the incident, and while the victims were "shaken", police said no one required medical treatment.

In a statement, the force said: "At 03:00hrs on Sunday, 4 September police were alerted to an attempted robbery in Bruton Street, Westminster. Officers responded and carried out a search of the area.

"The suspects – who were riding a moped – were not located.

"Nothing was stolen in the incident and while the victims were shaken, there were no reports of injuries requiring medical treatment.

"Enquiries are ongoing."

The attempted robbery is the latest in a spate of watch thefts that have swept the capital.

Footage shared online showed two violent watch thefts take place in broad daylight across the city.

One clip showed two moped thieves smashing in the window of a Bugatti Chiron with a hammer in a bid to steal the owner's watch.

The man on a motorcycle - who was dressed in Deliveroo uniform - made the move while stopping in traffic while another man could be seen closing in from the other side of the car.

Read more: Police slap down 'ridiculous' suggestion for Londoners to hide valuables amid surge in violent street robberies

Meanwhile, a woman was held at knife point while thieves were believed to be targeting her watch.

She could be heard screaming as the attack unfolded, with a man also getting caught up in the brawl.

Detective Inspector Treasa O'Donoghue, who oversees the Met's Scorpion team - a highly specialised unit targeting criminals using mopeds to commit robberies - told LBC attacks plaguing the capital are "absolutely sickening" but insisted that Londoners should not put their day-to-day lives on pause and instead be "extra vigilant".

Ms O'Donoghue said: "If you're wearing that type of watch [a Rolex] and it does stand out I just ask people to be extra vigilant.

"I'm not here to say or dictate to anybody 'don't wear your watches, hide them away'…that's just ridiculous.

"It's up to you as an individual - all we're asking is to be more aware of where you are and who's around.

"It's the campaign that's been going on for a while now: look up, look out.

"Nobody should have to hide their watch when they go out."