Rolls-Royce couples robbed of pounds 70,000

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TWO WEALTHY couples were robbed of jewellery and watches worth nearly pounds 70,000 after driving home by Rolls-Royce from a night out in London's West End, police said yesterday.

The robbery is the latest in a series of street robberies which have targeted the rich and famous in London.

Last week, the former editor of the Daily Mail City pages, Sir Patrick Sargeant, was attacked and robbed as he returned home with his wife, whose pounds 30,000 diamond ring stolen. Previous victims have included Carlton TV boss Michael Green and Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone.

The middle-aged victims of the latest "Rolex robbery", whom police refused to name, were attacked as they arrived at the home of one of the couples in Finchley, north London, after visiting an upmarket club.

They were approached by four masked men as they climbed out of the car, owned by one of the couples, near Regent's Park Road, early on Sunday morning.

Police said the robbers threatened the four before removing three gold and diamond rings from the fingers of the women, a diamond necklace, a Rolex watch and a Vacheron Constanten watch, as well as pounds 200 cash.

Leaving their victims shocked but unhurt, the suspects, aged 25-30, escaped in a gold-coloured hatchback with a licence plate that may have begun G 14. "It is essential that we trace this gang before they strike again," said PC Dave Turner, one of the officers investigating the attack.

Police are appealing for witnesses, and think the victims could have been followed from the club, although they said they were keeping an open mind.

So-called "Rolex raiders" came to the public attention with a series of targeted muggings of affluent people in central and west London.

In a bid to trap the robbers, police officers have gone into high robbery rate areas dressed as wealthy Rolex-wearers and have had some success.

In September, three men and a woman were sentenced to a total of 24 years' custody for snatching expensive watches and jewellery in a series of raids. Knightsbridge Crown Court was told that street robberies fell after the arrests.

But it is clear that other gangs spring up to replace those convicted.

As the convicted four were awaiting sentencing, another gang entered the celebrity launch of Antony Worrall Thompson's restaurant, Woz, in Notting Hill and ripped a woman's Rolex from her arm.