A London father is shaken after being attacked by two men on mopeds brandishing a machete and knife who demanded he hand over his luxury watch.
The man, who the Standard has agreed not to name, said he was targeted while having a drink with his wife on Queen Street in Mayfair ahead of the Coldplay concert last month.
“I knew they were after my [£70,000] watch so I ran up Curzon Street and they ran me over with the moped and were brandishing the machete saying ‘Give me your watch’,” he told the Standard.
He managed to escape into a nearby Tesco with his watch intact, but not without being hit with a moped three times and by an oncoming car as he ran onto the road.
“I got hit three times by the scooters. The last time they ran into me...I was in the middle of the road. At that time I saw my wife come out of nowhere and kick one of them.
“She kicked one of them but she didn’t see they had a knife. They put it to her face.”
The victim said he was left “pretty bashed” and still has pain in his shoulders.
“It shook everyone up that saw it because they were relentless. Normally they snatch and go but they didn’t.
“They’re so brazen at the moment. This was 4.30 in the afternoon.”
He is one of thousands that have been mugged across London in one of the fastest-rising crimes this year.
Muggings, or thefts from a person, have risen by almost 70 percent in the last 12 months in the capital, with more than 57,000 incidents recorded between August 2021 and August 2022.
There have been almost twice as many muggings so far this year than the same period, between January and August, in 2020.
Thieves are often after expensive items such as luxury watches, jewellery and phones. Hotspots are often travel hubs such as train, tube or bus stations where criminals target people who look distracted, Metroplitan Police said.
A string of high profile cases have occured in recent months.
Detectives are hunting a moped and e-bike gang behind 100 high-value watch robberies in central London.
Meanwhile a group of people driving around in a silver Audi are believed to be responsible for 12 incidents across the capital between May and July.
“During these offences the victim was usually injured by being struck with an object, before their watch was stolen,” Met Police said.
Last month a diner had his luxury watch snatched off his wrist outside high-end Mayfair sushi restaurant Sexy Fish.
These crimes are being recorded in above average numbers across London every month - peaking at a total of 5,211 offences recorded in March.
Thefts from a person are most frequent in Westminster - 15,000 were recorded in the past 12 months - Metropolitan Police data reveals.
They have increased almost three-fold in the borough since August 2021.
Camden is also a hotspot. Thefts from a person have increased 60 percent in the last 12 months, with 462 being recorded in July alone.
A man behind the Instagram page @watch_crime_LDN, who wished to remain anonymous, said there is “definitely an uptick” in watch crime across the capital.
He said he receives at least three reports of watch thefts a day.
“Some days I have had 400+ messages with a mixture of theft reports and frustration at what is happening,” he told the Standard.
He said the thefts can range from “moped snatch and grabs, some are stabbings, some are slight of hand and others just brute force”.
Metropolitan Police said it is determined to reduce the number of thefts and robberies in London.
“Densely-packed streets create a more agile operating ground for street robbers. Officers are routinely carrying out uniformed and plain clothed patrols in hotspot areas and are targeting criminals on a daily basis.
“Our ‘Look Up. Look Out’ campaign urges people to be aware of their surroundings in transport hubs and busy areas where robberies are more likely to occur.
“If you see a robbery taking place, or have just been robbed, call 999 immediately. Our advice is to stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to who is around you, keep valuables such as mobile phones, watches and cash out of sight.”
Diana Fawcett, chief executive at the charity Victim Support said muggings can be seen as “low level crimes” but they have a long lasting impact on victims.
“Being attacked, or stolen from while walking down the street can make people afraid to go out in public places or do ordinary things like popping to shops.
“Losing money and vital possessions like phones, and bank cards, which are essential for day to day life, can also plunge people into financial difficulty, and can be difficult to replace.
“Anyone who has been a victim can get in touch with Victim Support for free and confidential support, by visiting our website or calling our 24/7 supportline.”
Westminster City Council and Camden Council have been approached for comment.