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Beverly Hills police beefing up patrols after brazen robbery of man’s $500,000 watch

Man wearing $500,000 watch
Shay Belhassen was robbed of his rose gold Richard Mille RM 11-03 Flyback Chronograph watch, which he estimated is worth $500,000, in Beverly Hills on Friday.
(Shay Belhassen)

After a brazen daylight robbery on Friday — a diner’s $500,000 watch was stolen at gunpoint at a fashionable restaurant — Beverly Hills police have promised to bring in private security guards to patrol the city’s business district.

“I want the world to know that Beverly Hills is a very safe community,” Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti wrote in a statement released on Saturday.

To that end, the city will add 12 armed security guards and six marked cars to protect the city’s downtown for the “foreseeable future,” according to media reports.

Jeweler Shay Belhassen was sitting at Il Pastaio, a restaurant across from his showroom, when he saw three men in hoodies coming his way.

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“One of them ran and pulled a gun from his jacket pocket, grabbed me from the back of my chair, choking me and putting a gun to my head,” Belhassen said in an interview with The Times on Friday morning. “His two friends — one of them is yanking my hand and the other is yanking at my watch.”

The robbers made off with the watch, a rose gold Richard Mille RM 11-03 Flyback Chronograph worth an estimated half-million dollars. But Belhassen, who told reporters he was fighting for his life not the watch, wound up with their gun. It went off during the struggle and the bullet grazed a woman dining at the restaurant. A second person suffered minor injuries and some planters were smashed during the melee.

In his statement, Rivetti added that Beverly Hills police are sparing no effort to hunt down “those who make the grave mistake of committing crimes here.”

Belhassen said he is now offering a $50,000 reward for the return of the watch. He doubts it will hit the market quickly, in part because his robbery in the heart of Beverly Hills caught so much attention.

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Audacious robberies that end in gunfire are on the rise, according to Los Angeles police. Lady Gaga’s dogwalker was shot in late February by robbers who confronted him on a Hollywood street, making off with two of the pop singer’s beloved French bulldogs.

The dogwalker was seriously injured but survived; the dogs were later returned.

The two incidents are part of a disturbing trend, according to police.

LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told the L.A. Police Commission this week that 18 robbery victims had been shot in L.A. this year through Tuesday, compared with just one such shooting during the same period last year. Of the 18 shootings, 14 occurred on city streets.

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“This is extremely concerning to the department and to the public,” Girmala said.

The increase comes amid a more general surge in serious violence in the city, where higher rates of shootings and homicides that began last year amid turmoil brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have carried over into 2021.

As of Tuesday, L.A. had recorded 64 homicides and 267 shootings, compared with 46 homicides and 111 shootings at the same point last year, Girmala said. “Shooting violence continues to plague our communities with citywide increases,” she said.


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