Normally, the most common swindle you hear of happening to tourists in Thailand is blokes finding out that the nice Thai lady they tried to take back to their room was a ladyboy instead… But one British bloke hoping to get lucky with a local lass had his rather expensive Rolex watch stolen instead.
Thai police are reportedly investigating a woman accused of stealing a Rolex watch worth US$30,000 from a British tourist in the popular beach resort of Pattaya.
According to a police report filed by the Pom, he invited a Thai woman he’d just met back to his hotel to “hang out”, and whilst he was taking a bath, both his new friend and his gold, diamond-encrusted watch were gone, Pattaya News reports. Embarrassingly, he didn’t even know her name.
Our take? His first mistake was travelling to Thailand with a $30,000 Rolex. Travelling with expensive timepieces is always a risk – especially Rolexes as the brand is so well-known – and especially in a town like Pattaya, which is known as a petty crime hotspot.
Not that Britain’s that much better these days. London has become such a watch crime hotspot that one watch retailer has taken to driving a huge advertising van around the British capital with huge warnings about watch thefts around high-risk parts of London including Mayfair and Knightsbridge.
Watch boutiques in London have also taken to giving customers decoy shopping bags so that they can disguise their new watch purchases, smuggle them out of the store and be less of a target for thieves.
Watch crime in London has become particularly pronounced since COVID. As The New York Times, explains, as pandemic restrictions have eased (and economic conditions have continued to worsen), there’s been an explosion in watch thefts in London – “[and] inevitably, the brands that are most coveted by collectors are also robbers’ favourites.”
WATCH how this ‘shopping bag swindle’ is done below.
Travelling with watches advice
We’d strongly recommend to any watch lover out there that they seriously consider travelling without one’s luxury watch. Getting it stolen is only part of the risk: thieves aren’t afraid to use violence, and if you get injured overseas, getting medical treatment can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming (as well as distressing). Instead, travel with a cheapy you won’t be too sad to lose.
If you’re dead set on travelling with your expensive watch, there are a few simple precautions you can take to protect yourself.
First, keep your watch locked in your hotel’s safe overnight or any time you don’t plan on wearing it. Counter-intuitively, the safest place for your watch (other than a safe) is on your wrist.
Secondly, refrain from posting photos of your watch on social media, especially with hashtags or location tags: tech-savvy thieves will be able to use those to track you down and it’ll just make you an even bigger target.
Make sure you also get travel insurance that’ll cover the theft of your watch. However, a word to the wise: many travel insurance vendors will only cover goods up to the value of around $30,000… So, if you’re like our British chum, consider leaving the gold Rollie at home.