The Metropolitan Police Service has today released details about an innovative undercover operation which leveraged data and intelligence to halve luxury watch thefts in central London boroughs.
Between April 2022 and September 2022, there were over 300 luxury watches stolen across the three London boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham.
Met intelligence revealed that most victims were targeted as they left pubs and nightclubs in intoxicated, vulnerable states. These individuals would usually be offered drugs or sex workers before being lured to a back alley and robbed.
Using data and intelligence to pinpoint particular hotspots, officers from the Met Covert Policing Command and central London robbery team set up two sting operations. Undercover officers wearing luxury watches posed as partygoers in a bid to catch the robbers red-handed.
The operations were conducted within Soho from October 2022 to December 2022 and March 2023 to October 2023 within Soho.
As a result of the operations, there were 31 arrests and 27 successful charges, leading to 21 convictions to date. Of these 21 convictions, 14 individuals have so far been sentenced to a total of 26 years overall, with other cases pending.
“Using data and intelligence, we identified the locations and times where these crimes were taking place and deployed undercover officers into the area, as part of our precision-based approach to fighting crime.
“By targeting the people causing the most harm and the locations most frequently linked to crime, we are having a greater impact on keeping our communities safe.”Ben Russell, Commander for Met Intelligence.
The Met has since released video footage of the operation on its LinkedIn site. Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley spoke about the operation on LBC’s Call the Commissioner. He shared a bit more insight about the operation including telling listeners that he would have loved to be part of the operation when he was a younger officer and still would today if he could.