Young women are engaging their victims in conversation before trying to snatch their expensive wrist watches – and they often use violence during the attacks.
It is believed more than 20 attacks have taken place so far from Emsworth to Bournemouth, where the watch snatchers are known as the ‘Rolex Rippers.’
The female attackers also use ‘spotters’, to help target their victims, and getaway drivers parked nearby to make their escape.
It is thought there may have been at least six actual and attempted thefts in and around Petersfield by women targeting elderly men wearing expensive watches.
And it appears they may be linked to similar muggings along the south coast, with at least 22 watch thefts between Emsworth and Bournemouth.
Lone men in Petersfield, Liphook and Emsworth have so far fallen victim to women who appear to work with ‘spotters’, and getaway drivers.
After an attack on a Clanfield man in the Heath car park in Sussex Road, a £5,000 reward was offered for information.
The attack in December 2020 saw the 68-year-old man approached by a woman who assaulted him before stealing his Patek Phillipe Nautilus watch. The woman got away in a silver car driven by a man east along Sussex Road out of Petersfield, police said at the time.
In the most recent attack on October 1 in Swan Street, an 84-year-old man bravely defend himself successfully from a woman attempting to rip his watch from his wrist.
She fled ,leaving him shaken with a bruised arm. It’s thought the victim was identified by a dark-haired man in Waitrose and followed from the shop.
And in October, another man had his Rolex watch dragged off his wrist in Station Road in Liphook by a woman who got away in car.
The women approach their targets asking for either directions or information. Once they have gained the victim’s help, they make a grab for their watch.
In July 2020, police issued descriptions of two women who mugged a 78-year-old man in Emsworth and stole his Rolex watch. At the time police said there had been four similar thefts.
Both woman are said to be in their 20s or 30s and between 5ft 2in and 5ft 9in tall, with dark hair. They have either east European or Spanish accents, say victims.
Police earlier refused to link the attacks, although admitted they were similar.