UAE issues warning as Emiratis report being targeted by thieves in Europe

by martinawinneke

Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers tips for people travelling to the UK, Spain, Italy, Georgia, France and Austria

Emiratis travelling to a number of European countries have been told to exercise caution due to a high number of thefts involving UAE nationals. Shutterstock

Emiratis travelling to a number of European countries have been told to exercise caution due to a high number of thefts involving UAE nationals. Shutterstock

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Emiratis travelling to a number of European countries are urged to be cautious and vigilant, due to a high number of thefts involving UAE nationals.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said UAE nationals travelling to the UK, Spain, Italy, Georgia, France and Austria should be particularly careful.

It comes as Albanian and Libyan Rolex gangs have been targeting Europe.

The organised gangs use spotters to identify victims in high-end areas and then send in thieves in getaway vehicles to rob them.

The “Rolex Ripper” crime wave has seen the number of watches stolen nearly double in England and Wales between 2015 and 2022, to 11,035, according to figures from Watchfinder UK.

There have been so many robberies that some international business executives have voiced concerns about visiting even the most high-end parts of London for fear their expensive watches will be stolen.

The stolen watch database shows that last year there was a 56 per cent surge in thefts in the UK capital, with 6,000 watches stolen.

Police in Paris recently dismantled a gang of watch Algerian watch robbers, who went after timepieces worth €60,000 to €80,000 ($65,000 to $86,000) in upmarket areas of the French capital, which has also been experiencing a surge in robberies.

Another gang, which included an Algerian and a Moroccan, stole luxury watches worth €170,000, after travelling to the holiday island of Majorca from Barcelona.

According to Spain’s national police, gangs based in Italy often recruit young men of North African origin to carry out watch robberies in areas popular with holidaymakers.

In the winter they travel to the Canary Islands to commit crimes, taking advantage of the good weather and tourism.

As Emiratis head to Europe this summer, the ministry has issued the warning for people to be vigilant.

It has advised Emiratis to:

  • Avoid wearing valuable or rare items
  • Keep official documents secure
  • Book cars and hotels through reputable global companies

Emiratis were also encouraged to visit the ministry’s website to stay updated with travel advice.

The ministry’s emergency contact number for UAE nationals is: 0097180024.

10 most expensive watches stolen in the UK – in pictures

1. Richard Mille Rm 52-01. Value: £1,000,000. Getty Images

Updated: June 29, 2024, 3:48 PM

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