Rash of Rolex Robberies Plagues Westside, Valley


Rolex thefts by gunmen apparently attracted by the expensive watches have flared anew, with more than 50 such robberies on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley in the past several months.

The latest holdup--similar to those about a year ago and in previous years--occurred Tuesday when a Rolex was taken at gunpoint from a man who had just parked his Jaguar near the Veterans Administration building in Westwood.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide unit has taken over the investigation. Nearly half of the 40 Westside robberies were committed in West Los Angeles, with others occurring in Culver City and Santa Monica, Lt. Frank Spangler said Tuesday.


Eleven robberies have been reported in the West Valley Division since August, with two others occurring in the Van Nuys and Devonshire divisions, Det. Robert Johansen said. In the latest San Fernando Valley case, armed bandits pistol-whipped a 55-year-old Woodland Hills man on Dec. 23 outside a Ventura Boulevard office building before stealing his Rolex and one from his co-worker. Together, the watches were valued at $28,000.

So far, there have been no arrests in the cases. But Spangler said he suspects that the crimes may be the work of a loosely organized group of thieves who work in pairs but switch partners.

Rolexes range in price from about $1,750 for a steel watch to as much as $50,000 for a gold president model with a diamond pave bracelet and case.

Investigators suspect that bandits look for potential victims at expensive restaurants or even at pricey grocery stores. They also appear to seek out well-dressed drivers of luxury cars and pull up next to them, looking for a Rolex on their wrist.

The Rolex thieves often follow victims to their next destination and rob them at gunpoint as they get out of their cars.

To avoid becoming a victim, police advise Rolex owners to be aware of what is going on around them.


“If you suspect somebody’s tailing you, take an alternate travel path to see if they follow and if they do, drive to a police station or call the police on your [cellular] phone,” Spangler advised.

But police recommend that those caught off guard give up the watch to avoid injury. Spangler said several victims in West Los Angeles were injured only after they hesitated to hand over their Rolexes.