Derek Freestone was sitting in the passenger seat of his friend’s Mercedes, parked in the picturesque fishing town of Emsworth in Hampshire, when two women knocked on the window and asked him to sign a petition for a deaf school
Derek Freestone, a retired wine merchant from Birchington, Kent, was en route to the Goodwood Festival of Speed motor racing event with a friend when they stopped in Emsworth at 3.15pm on July 7 last year to pick up medication from a pharmacy in the town .
He was sitting in the passenger seat of his friend’s Mercedes, parked in the picturesque fishing town of Emsworth in Hampshire, when two women knocked on the window and asked him to sign a petition for a deaf school.
No sooner had he done so than one of them lunged, throwing her arms around the 77-year-old as she tried to kiss him.
Shocked, he barely gave a thought to the second lady, who had been shaking his left hand.
Only after he’d pushed the first woman away and shut the car door did he realise his gold Rolex – bought 20 years ago for £4,500 but now worth £12,500 – was gone.
‘I jumped out and shot round the car but there was no sign of them. It happened so quickly,’ says Mr Freestone, still reeling from the robbery three months later.
‘It really hit me in the pit of my stomach. What the hell have we done to our country that this can happen in broad daylight?’.
He said the two women were dark-haired, one in her late 20s, one late 30s, and around 5ft 5in and 5ft 7in tall.
Alan Bruce, who had his £14,000 watch stolen by two women
Within a day, the gang had moved on to their next target – Alan Bruce, 63, who lives at the edge of Ferndown Golf Club and was seven miles away in Wimborne, Dorset, when he was robbed at about 11am on July 15.
Having parked his Audi TT Sport, he was approached by two women carrying a clipboard in the town centre. He estimates both were in their late 20s or early 30s.
‘The taller one was in jeans and a dark top, the shorter one in a long, brightly colored dress,’ says Mr Bruce, a divorced father of two who frequently travels for his job as a marine engineer.
‘I pick up accents and I would say they were either Albanian or Bulgarian. They said: ‘We’re doing a petition for a deaf center’ and would I sign a document? I said no problem.’
Left-handed and wearing his £14,000 gold Yacht-Master Rolex on the same hand, he signed the petition. Then the younger woman said she loved his aftershave and asked where it was from. To his astonishment, she then asked him for a cuddle.
Alarmed, he instinctively put his right hand on his back pocket to protect his wallet and pushed the women with his left hand before walking away.
It was only as he did so that he realised his Rolex was missing, its double clasp having been prised off without him feeling a thing.