Where do stolen watches go?

Where do stolen watches go?

One of the most haunting questions for a victim of theft is where the stolen goods went. You’re aware that your stolen watch is somewhere out there, but you can’t seem to wrap your mind around it. What happens to the watches that have been stolen?


The thief is arrested right after the theft

One possibility is that the thief is arrested by the Police fairly quickly after the heist. Most likely, he still has the watch in his possession, which can be promptly returned to the victim. The Police will certainly demand evidence of ownership, but will return soon after receiving it.

When a thief is arrested quite some time after a crime, the police will nearly always still conduct a house search at his residence. When the thief has not sold the watch for a quick profit, it is frequently found, sometimes with other stolen items from past crimes.



The thief is getting away with the crime

When the thief is not arrested soon after the incident, chances are high that the stolen watch has already been sold. Depending on the sales market and the thief’s experience the sale would have been to:

  • Members of other gangs
  • Seedy stores or money converters
  • Large organized gangs

The type of criminal going after luxury timepieces (Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, etc.) is usually more professional. He can spot a specific watch brand or model from a distance, understands how to untie it, and, more importantly, knows what to do with it once he has it in his possession. This type of criminal frequently has a network of associates to whom he can sell the watch for a rapid profit.


The watch is worn by other gang members

When a watch is sold to other gang members, it is sometimes worn by the first buyer for quite some time. The crooks are aware that it is a highly ‘hot’ watch that will require some time to ‘cool off’ before being sold to a new owner.



The watch is sold to seedy shops or cash converters

Along with the more skilled criminal, there are also thieves who act rashly and are often unaware of what they have stolen. They might as well have stolen a handbag or a phone as long as it provided them with some fast cash or narcotics. This type of criminal frequently lacks a professional offset market and must find someone willing to pay them for the watch. This could happen on the street, but it’s more likely that they’ll try to sell it in sleazy shops or money changers.

These sleazy shops or cash converters should, and usually do, exercise extreme caution when purchasing pricey luxury watches from unknown customers. A shop owner who knows a watch is most likely stolen but nonetheless purchases it risks being prosecuted. As a result, most shops are extremely cautious, but there are always exceptions in the world, as well as dishonest shop owners looking to profit.

pawn shop


Big organized gangs

When you start reading about stolen watches and interviewing the persons involved (police officers, victims, etc. ), it becomes clear that there is a high market for these items. As a result, larger organized gangs specialize in stealing and selling luxury timepieces as part of their illegal business.

For a long time, a group known as the “Rolex Rippers” has terrorized the United Kingdom. Because a large number of watches have been stolen, the criminals will need a large network to pay in the stolen products.

Stolen timepieces have been known to show up on the other side of the world in the past. Watches purchased in Europe end up in the United States and vice versa. The most serious impact is that recovering stolen property becomes increasingly difficult for victims. Despite police forces’ best efforts, international communication is not always successful. The victim is not helped by language hurdles or jurisdictional issues between law forces.

As time increases, the stolen watch will cool off and it will be sold to a new owner.



Report the watch with the manufacturer and online

You want to increase your chances of getting your watch back as a victim? Notify your watch manufacturer and enter the information into online watch databases as soon as possible after the theft. The watch may be found when it is serviced with the manufacturer, or it may be discovered by a pawn shop with a good conscience.



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