‘Hugger mugger’ appeal: Shocking CCTV footage shows attacker stealing £5,000 watch after immobilising student with sleeper hold

Police said the unprecedented method of the assault made it particularly concerning

Police have released CCTV footage of the shocking moment a mugger immobilised his victim in central London with a strangle hold before stealing his £5,000 Rolex watch.

Scotland Yard appealed for witnesses who might have seen what it described as the “hugger mugger”, and said the attack was especially concerning because of the method used.

The incident occurred near Regents Street at around 3.35am on Saturday 10 May, when police said the victim was heading home “a bit worse for wear” after a night out.

A smartly-dressed 24-year-old student, he was approached by a man asking for a cigarette and the two got into a conversation about martial arts.

Explaining that he wanted to demonstrate a restraint move, the man persuaded his victim to turn around and then clamped his arm around his throat.

The student (right) was walking towards Oxford Circus from Regents Street when he was attacked by the 'hugger mugger' (left) The student (right) was walking towards Oxford Circus from Regents Street when he was attacked by the 'hugger mugger' (left) The strangle hold caused the victim to briefly lose consciousness and fall to the ground – at which point the mugger took his watch, described as a £5,000 Rolex Submariner with a silver bracelet and black face, and ran off.

Investigating officer DC Michael Heaney said the victim was left “badly shaken”, but that the incident could have been much worse.

He said: “The suspect targeted his victim carefully, choosing someone who was a bit the worse for wear after a night out, alone and smartly dressed.

“The method he uses is not something we have seen before in this area and is a concern. Had the suspect applied more pressure the victim could have been far more seriously injured.”

Police appealed for anyone who may have seen the man, who told his victim he was Algerian, to come forward. 

He was described as being bald with stubble, 5ft 8ins and of muscular build, and wearing a dark baseball-type jacket, dark blue jeans and a black baseball cap.

The assault took place in a doorway opposite the Strawberry Moon bar in Heddon Street.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 0207 321 7513 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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