Watch dealer 'should never have been left alone' in store - as hunt continues for suspects who posed as wealthy clients

30 May 2024, 08:19

The watch firm where Oliver White had been working before he became a victim in a £2.8 raid has said he 'shouldn't have been left alone'.
The watch firm where Oliver White had been working before he became a victim in a £2.8 raid has said he 'shouldn't have been left alone'. Picture: Police/Instagram

By Asher McShane

A 27-year-old watch seller who took his life after a ‘traumatic’ robbery should never have been left alone in the store, his bosses have said.

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Oliver White, 27, was found dead at home in circumstances deemed 'not suspicious' by police - around 24 hours after he was held in a chokehold during a high-value watch robbery in Richmond, south west London.

A day before his death Oliver was the victim in a '£2.8m' robbery at the 247 Kettles store in affluent Richmond, south-west London.

247 Kettles posed a statement on Instagram: "The suspects targeted our store posing as potential clients across a three day period waiting for a vulnerability and the correct time to strike. Unfortunately on Saturday the attempt succeeded in a violent robbery which Oliver was the victim of.

"We have strict security procedures to prevent such circumstances', but 'through no fault of anyone's' they were not followed during the 'tragic event'," the statement added.

"Oliver had an incredible work ethic and a passion for pleasing customers. He liked to work around the clock and even out of hours to ensure customers were satisfied.

"He should never have been alone in the office on Saturday and that amount of watches should’ve never been on display. We have strict security procedures to prevent such circumstances."

His family said in a statement on Tuesday that they believe their son took his own life due to the “anguish and distress” the incident caused him.

Horrifying footage showed two men entering the shop with one appearing to assault Oliver, placing his arms round his neck and restraining his hands.

The watch firm said Mr White should 'never have been left alone'.
The watch firm said Mr White should 'never have been left alone'. Picture: Instagram

The firm also revealed that the two men being hunted over the violent robbery had posed as potential clients over three days before they carried out the robbery and attack on Mr White.

“The suspects targeted our store posing as potential clients across a three day period waiting for a vulnerability and the correct time to strike. Unfortunately on Saturday the attempt succeeded in a violent robbery which Oliver was the victim of,” the statement continued.

“We would appreciate if false rumours could be stopped to allow both friends and family to grieve without additional stress and intrusion.

“As a business we will remain closed temporarily to grieve the loss of our friend. Any messages / requests will be picked up upon our return.

“Our thoughts are with all of Oliver’s family at this time.”

It comes after the family of Mr White released a statement paying tribute to their son on Tuesday.

Alana Dredge posted tributes on Instagram after her partner Oliver White died
Alana Dredge posted tributes on Instagram after her partner Oliver White died. Picture: Instagram

Mr White’s parents said he had been left “traumatised and unable to speak” following the robbery.

In a statement released through the police, his parents said: "He had been the victim of a terrifying attack and high value robbery at his place of work, which was later shared widely on social media."

“Sadly, it is our belief that Oliver subsequently took his own life due to the anguish and distress of this terrible incident.

“As a family we are devastated by the loss of our beautiful, funny, loyal boy, who lit up every room he walked into.

“We are desperately trying to make sense and come to terms with this tragic incident and plead that we are given the privacy to grieve without additional stress and intrusion into our lives.”

A close friend of Oliver told MailOnline: "He was very depressed after the robbery and was filled with a lot of worry especially after it was established that around £2.8million worth of watches had been stolen.

"Olli was petrified that he could lose all that he owns and that they might even take his mother's house.

"He was also traumatised by what happened and became very fearful about the impact this robbery could have on his and his family's financial future. He just didn't know what was going to happen."

Another friend said: "He wasn't sure if the insurance would have covered the theft or if there was any insurance at all.

"The robbery left him broken and combined with the financial uncertainty over who would be responsible he couldn't see another way out.

"Olli took it very personally and really believed that he would get all the blame and that it would ruin him."

Read more: 'I cherish you forever': Devastated girlfriend pays tribute to watch seller found dead after being choked during robbery

Read more: Revealed: Firm whose watch dealer was found dead after raid also targeted in 2021 when crooks stole £500k of timepieces

It comes after Mr White's partner Alana Dredge shared tributes after his death, as she posted on Instagram revealing that she keeps sending him WhatsApp messages in the hope he will respond.

Devastated Alana posted online on Monday: “My darling boy I can’t believe your gone. This was our last photo together. This was only 2 weeks ago and now I’ll never see you again.

“The last thing you said to me was I love you. I will cherish you forever, being with you was the best 6 years of my life. I hope you are reading this from up there, I will continue to make you proud.

“We saving up to buy our first home and I promise you I’ll I will buy the house you exactly wanted and it’ll be your home. I keep sending you what’s app hoping this is all a nightmare and you’ll reply.

“I don’t know how I’ll do life without you, my whole world has ended. My life will never be the same again I can’t explain how much I love you.

“I will never stop loving you - I’m so numb I can’t cry anymore. I have never felt pain like this, you were the only person that could give me comfort like no other and make all my pain go away.

“Now you’re not here I don’t know what I’m going to do 💔 I love you Oliver more than I can put into words 😭😭😭😭”

A day before his death two robbers entered the 247 Kettles store in Richmond last Saturday and stole a large number of high-value watches.

The same watch retailer was also targeted in 2021 in a different raid carried out by masked men at their previous address in Egham in Surrey.

They moved their business premises not long after that raid, in which half a million pounds worth of watches were taken.

In the latest attack, the two men can be seen sitting at the other side of the desk to the victim, who appears to be fixing a white watch for them.

One of the attackers grabs the dealer by both arms and violently pushes him across the room on his chair into a corner. His accomplice then dashes to the counter and sweeps up large numbers of watches - stuffing them into the backpack of the man performing the chokehold on Oliver.

The man performing the chokehold speaks into the victim’s ear while the raid is carried out.

Police are releasing images of two men they want to locate following a robbery at a jewellers in Richmond.
Police are releasing images of two men they want to locate following a robbery at a jewellers in Richmond. Picture: Met Police

Police said they were called to a property in Shepperton on Sunday shortly after 8.15pm, 'following a report of a concern for safety'.

Surrey police confirmed Oliver’s death in a statement: “A man in his 20s was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin are aware and are being supported.

'Enquiries are still ongoing, but his death is not thought to be suspicious.”

The Met police said: “We are aware of the death of a man in Surrey on Sunday, 26 May. This is being investigated by officers from Surrey Police and is not being treated as suspicious at this time.

“The man who died was the victim of a robbery at a jewellers in Richmond on Saturday, 25 May.

“We ask that the privacy of his family is respected at this difficult time.”

Police have also launched a manhunt for the two suspects accused of robbing the jewellers in the leafy borough of Richmond, south-west London.

The incident happened just before 3pm on Saturday, 25 May in Kew Road.

Police noted that one of the suspects has a distinctive neck tattoo.

Police are releasing images of two men they want to locate following a robbery at a jewellers in Richmond.
Police are releasing images of two men they want to locate following a robbery at a jewellers in Richmond. Picture: Met Police

Watch thefts across England and Wales have soared in recent years, rising from 6,696 in 2015 to 11,035 in 2022, according to data from Watchfinder & Co.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "We are aware of the death of a man in Surrey on Sunday, 26 May. This is being investigated by officers from Surrey Police and is not being treated as suspicious at this time.

"The man’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers.

"The man who died was the victim of a robbery at a jewellers in Richmond on Saturday, 25 May.

"We ask that the privacy of his family is respected at this difficult time and moving CCTV footage of the incident involving the victim is not shared on social media.

Police have asked anyone who recognises the two men in the footage or has any information about the raid that could assist police to call 101 or contact @MetCC on X/Twitter, quoting CAD4555/25May.

Those feeling distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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