VIDEO: Smash and grab theft of MoonSwatch suitcase the latest symptom of watch crime epidemic VIDEO: Smash and grab theft of MoonSwatch suitcase the latest symptom of watch crime epidemic

VIDEO: Smash and grab theft of MoonSwatch suitcase the latest symptom of watch crime epidemic

Luke Benedictus

During the early hours of Monday morning, there was a brazen smash-and-grab raid at the Swatch store in Amsterdam. After forcing entry, a hooded man broke into a glass cabinet and made off with the window-display suitcase containing the entire BIOCERAMIC MoonSwatch collection. Police were called to the crime scene but, at the time of writing, the perpetrators are still at large.

It’s the latest sign that watch theft has become an international epidemic after a summer where numbers spiked. In July, the San Francisco Police Department issued a warning to the public stating that thieves were targeting individuals wearing luxury watches after more than two dozen thefts. In Paris, luxury watch thefts increased by 31% since the beginning of 2022, according to figures published by the Journal du Dimanche. Meanwhile, Catalan authorities have formed a dedicated unit to investigate watch theft after watches began to account for a growing proportion of violent robberies in Barcelona. In fact, newspapers started reporting so many watch robberies that T+T made an editorial decision not to cover them unless they were particularly notable.

Watch crime, of course, is nothing new. Watches are attractive targets for thieves for the simple reason that they are often easy to fence and can be resold for prices far in advance of their retail value. Until now, however, criminal interest used to be mainly focused on luxury watches. You don’t have to be part of the horological cognoscenti to know that a gold Rolex Day-Date is a valuable watch. The MoonSwatch, on the other hand, retails for A$380. The fact that modestly priced (albeit wildly in-demand) watches like this are now being targeted shows that criminals are becoming more watch literate than ever before. They recognise the resale value of these watches.

theft of MoonSwatch

Evidence of this has been mounting for some time. The New York Times reported that, back in March, at the Swatch store in Carnaby Street in London, a man who’d queued for two nights to be at the front of the line for a MoonSwatch was threatened at knife-point and forced to give up his position.

theft of MoonSwatch

Meanwhile in July – also on Carnaby Street – the launch of the Bamford x G-Shock limited edition was hijacked by scalpers and flippers who rushed the queue. “They were violent,” George Bamford told T+T. “They shoved people out of the way and pushed ahead. One guy had been up since 4am, and he didn’t get a watch.”

This latest robbery shows how the watch industry is facing a growing problem as the criminal world becomes increasingly wise to the value of limited edition watches. Meanwhile, it’s also a worrying development for the punters. Before, you might’ve assumed that you could avoiding attracting the wrong sort of attention by opting not to wear a conspicuously flashy watch. When G-Shocks and Swatches get targeted, however, it’s clear that we’re entering a far darker phase.