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Designer watches worth £1.5billion stolen or lost as sick muggers use social media to find targets

DESIGNER watches worth a total of £1.5billion have been stolen or lost, it has been revealed.

There are 100,000 logged on website Watch Register — which has seen a 236 per cent rise in the past year.

Louis Wood£1.5billion worth of designer watches have been stolen or lost in the past year[/caption]

A former Met detective said thefts were “out of control” — as it emerged gangs are using social media to identify wealthy targets.

“Rolex Rippers” scour posts from patrons at some of Britain’s top restaurants and clubs, looking out for designer jewellery — and mug victims as they leave.

Ex-cop Peter Bleksley told The Sun on Sunday: “People think nothing of posting videos wearing their nice £20,000 watch but there are hawks on social media who will be searching for it.

“They monitor people tagging themselves at all the swanky spots and as soon as they spot a watch, they’ll send a signal and a moped gang will be there in minutes.”

Barrister Andrew Dinsmore was leaving a Knightsbridge restaurant in London, in daylight, when machete-wielding thugs screamed: “Give me your f**ing watch.”

The 34-year-old said: “I was fortunate to get the watch off my wrist in time, otherwise he could have sliced my arm off.”

Police figures show there were 49,854 ­victims in England since 2019 — with the axing of Rolex’s lost and stolen register blamed for helping robbers.

Until 2011, dealers and buyers could check with the company whether each watch’s serial number had been flagged up as stolen.

Paul Thorpe, 62, who worked in the watch trade for 40 years, said: “It was like the DVLA taking away the ability to check if a car was stolen. It’s a disaster.”

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