‘Rolex Ripper’ may be Albanian woman - as 77-year-old man becomes latest victim
Police are investigating a fresh “Rolex Ripper” theft, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal, as it has emerged that the women behind the attacks could be Albanian, according to victims.
Derek Freestone, 77, is the latest victim of a gang targeting elderly men for their expensive watches in villages and golf courses across Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Gloucestershire.
Hampshire Police believe he is one of at least 10 individuals to have been targeted in the county by the gang, which is believed to be Eastern European.
The cross county criminals pose as charity workers with blue clipboards, asking their victims to sign a petition before grabbing watches off their wrists and making a quick escape in a getaway car.
The Telegraph has uncovered a string of new incidents this summer, including two brothers, aged 85 and 91, who were targeted by the gang 80 miles apart in Gloucestershire and Surrey.
Dozens of victims have described the attackers as either one or two women, aged in their 20s or 30s, with dark or fair hair.
Mr Freestone, a retired wine merchant from Kent, was targeted by two women matching the same description in Emsworth, Hampshire, as he made his way to the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 7.
The two women, who told Mr Freestone that they were Albanian, were dressed in white tops with blue edging, navy trousers, and black shoes, one with fair hair and the other with dark hair.
“Me and a friend were sitting in the car outside the chemist waiting for his medication and these two young girls, somewhere between 25 and 35, walked up to the car,” Mr Freestone said.
“I opened the door to talk to them as I thought they were from the chemist and they produced a clipboard saying they were getting signatures for a deaf school, no donations just signatures.
“I thought why not and I just put a squiggle on the sheet. Next minute they were all over me like a rash while I was sitting in the car, unfortunately strapped in. I tried to push them away and shove them out.”
The women made a getaway and Mr Freestone realised they had taken his £4,500 Rolex Oyster watch with them. It has never been recovered.
He called the police, who attended the scene within 20 minutes, but no cameras had caught the crime as it was in a CCTV blindspot.
The following day, on July 8, and 112 miles away, a woman targeted Michael Parry, 85, using exactly the same method to steal his £13,500 Rolex stolen while he was out shopping in his local village supermarket in Gloucestershire.
Tom Holland teed off Celebrity-Pro Am charity golf competition in London
BMW and golf have been going hand-in-hand for decade, with some cars have even been designed (especially in the boot area) to accommodate a set of golf clubs. BMW organizes several golf tournaments every year and on Wednesday a charitable one was teed off by none other than the current Spider-Man in the Marvel cinematic universe, Tom Holland.
Hosted by the Wentworth Club in London, this is one of the highlights of the golf season and the third one of the Rolex Series. Dubbed Celebrity-Pro Am, you can already guess that this contest features a lot of heavy names. However, it’s also for a good cause. That’s because BMW is offering a more than decent prize for the one who will get the first hole-in-one at the 14th. To be more precise, BMW will donate £80,000 to the Alzheimer’s Society while the player who manages to achieve this feat will get a BMW iX for free for a year.
Tom Holland went round the course with his twin brother Harry and Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington. It is the first time that the 25-year-old has competed in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am. The same applied to English pro footballer Adam Lallana and former tennis pro Daniela Hantuchová (CZE). More top-level sportspeople were also swinging their clubs: Olympic gold medalists James Guy (ENG, swimming), Samantha Quek (ENG, hockey) and Denise Lewis (ENG, heptathlon), as well as former world football stars Robbie Fowler, Paul Ince and Andriy Shevchenko. Pop music also enjoyed renowned representation from chart-toppers like Ronan Keating, Niall Horan, Brain McFadden and Keith Duffy.
The defending champion right now is Tyrell Hatton from England. Players participating in the Celebrity-Pro Am will score points for the Ryder Cup. The prize money amounts to $8 million and there will be live concerts on the grounds during the weekend in the Championship Village, if you care to attend. Saturday evening will feature an appearance by chart-toppers “Clean Bandit”, followed by rock trio “Feeder” on Sunday.
Lionel Messi Has a New Team, and a New Watch
Welcome to Watches of the Week, where we’ll track the rarest, wildest, and most covetable watches spotted on celebrities.
On Tuesday afternoon, Lionel Messi departed from Barcelona, the club he called home for more than two decades. He boarded a plane to Paris and emerged in the window of Le Bourget Airport to wave to his fans. This was…new. Messi has been nothing but loyal throughout his career: 21 years with Barcelona’s academy and squad is proof of that. He’s been mostly the same with his watches—you’d call his wrist an exemplary team player. For years, after he got an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak as a gift after winning his first title with Barcelona in 2005, he wore the brand frequently. He became an ambassador in 2010, and then collaborated on a watch with the house in 2012. For the past few years, he’s worn a hulking Jacob & Co. with a dial in blue and white, to reflect the colors of the flag representing Messi’s native Argentina. That watch is the result of another collaboration and partnership Messi solidified in 2019. But Messi is clearly up for trying new things, and his team loyalties aren’t the only thing that’s shifted. As he popped out of a window at the airport to greet the fans of his new team, Paris St.-Germain, he was wearing a new watch: a Rolex Yacht Master.
Lionel Messi’s Rolex Yacht-Master
The Yacht-Master is certainly not the most obvious choice for Messi. Among Rolex watches, it’s not the universally lusted-after Daytona, or the pristine and elegant Day-Date. I suppose it’s a good choice for an athlete, though, equipped with a rubber strap and a durable ceramic bezel. But watches are so immune to the slightest shifts in the headwinds that this could be the immortalizing moment for the Yacht-Master. It’s not hard to imagine this as the start of a new legacy for this watch. Collectors should familiarize themselves with this picture of Messi greeting his new fans in the window. It’s the one an auction house will inevitably promote decades from now, if Messi ever decides to part with this watch (for charity, of course!). The Yacht-Master will forever be the timepiece one of the greatest soccer players in the world wore while marking a momentous occasion in his career—and in the watch world, that’s big time.
Russell Westbrook’s Rolex Datejust
Messi and Westbrook are in agreement: if you’re going to change teams, you must mark the occasion with a Rolex. While Messi went slightly out of the box with his Yacht-Master, Westbrook, for maybe the first time ever, is squarely inside the box. He’s wearing the very classic Datejust made out of both steel and gold—a combination the Crown calls “Rolesor.”
Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980
Stallone is a kingmaker in the world of watches, thanks to his idiosyncratic taste. He helped mint Panerai and ushered in the age of Big Watches in the ‘90s. So when he wears a Patek Philippe Nautilus, he doesn’t wear the one everyone else wants. The watch was originally designed to be a simple sports watch in stainless steel. The 5980 on Stallone’s wrist betrays those ideals. For starters, this model, first introduced in 2006, was the first with a chronograph. Also, the watch’s claim as a casual sports watch goes out the window when made over in rose gold.
Taika Waititi’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The movies Waititi makes are charmingly goofy, but clearly the man is deathly serious about his watches. The Daytona in its simplest form is an absolute darling among watch collectors, and Waititi turns the volume up here. The case is solid 18-carat gold, and the indices and subdials come in matching champagne. The red accents help the watch maintain a pinch of its racing roots.
Abraham Ancer’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
We’ve certainly seen some nice watches paired with the green jacket, but nothing quite compares to this timepiece. The ceramic openworked Royal Oak is a prize even for those who treat watch collecting as seriously as bloodsport—a favorite among folks like Kevin Hart, Draymond Green, and LeBron James. Ancer casually wears his out on the links.