Wandsworth mugging gang 'snatched designer watches by targeting wealthy shoppers'

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Wandsworth mugging gang 'snatched designer watches by targeting wealthy shoppers'

Postby Community Editor » Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:18 pm

Muggers snatched designer watches worth more than £1 million by targeting wealthy shoppers as they left top London shops Harrods and Selfridges, a court heard on Monday.

One watch stolen, a Richard Mille that was one of just 30 made, was worth nearly £700,000 alone, the jury was told.

The gang, all from Wandsworth, used some of the cash from selling the valuable timepieces to buy designer clothes for themselves, the court heard.

Many of the stolen watches, jewellery, as well as devices including a drone and camera equipment were discovered at five lock-ups and market stalls rented by the three men in December last year, the court was told.

Mehdi Didda, 34, his brother Sofiane Didda, 43, and Mohamed Safri, 35, scoped out shoppers buying items at Selfridges and Harrods to rob them of their prized items, Southwark Crown Court heard.Cash allegedly generated from the robberies were also found at a lock-up and at Sofiane Didda's home address, totalling £11,480.

Heidi Stonecliffe, prosecuting, said: "Between them, they took valuable watches from members of the public that they had targeted and

"They did this for a single purpose: greed. The watches were worth between £20,000 and £700,000 each.

"They could be sold on for significant amounts of money. The high value items that Mehdi Didda, his brother Sofiane Didda and Mohamed Safri handled were also worth significant amounts of cash and they operated between them to realise this money and then spent some of it on designer clothes for themselves."

Ms Stonecliffe said: "The Crown says that Safri and Mehdi Didda either actively took part in or were in agreement between them and with others over, the Crown also suggests that others were planned and that this assertion is supported by material found on Mehdi Didda's iPhone when it was looked at.

"This involved reconnaissance planning of a similar nature to what was seen on CCTV footage of the actual robberies which Mehdi Didda and Safri were alleged to have been involved in.

"This sort of reconnaissance, as you will see, involved identifying a victim based on the type of watch they were wearing, the shopping bags they were carrying and often the location they were in; a wealthy area or a luxury goods shop such as Selfridges or Harrods."

The court heard from one victim who was robbed of a watch worth £696,000.

Ngoc Cao and his wife Mia, who live in Vietnam, said they made frequent trips to London to shop.
 He said: "We had been shopping at Selfridges before 7pm.

"We didn’t stay long and went to the tax-free lounge.

"We then went onto Oxford Street and felt someone grabbing at my wrist. The man who tried to steal from me ran across the road. He had taken my watch and scratched my wrist."The watch is a Richard Mille RM - Erotic limited edition. It was numbered 19 of 30."Apparently it might be in somewhere in Hong Kong. I can’t remember what he looked like as it happened so quickly.

"The watch cost me the equivalent of £696,000."

Ms Stonecliffe said after the arrest of the three men, messages were found on phones talking about the watches.

Photographs on phones also showed "surveillance" of many of the victims, who all wore designer clothes and carrying bags from luxury shops.

She added: "When Mehdi Didda's home address was searched on November 30 it was found to be crammed full of new and almost new designer items.

"DS Swindells, who you will hear from in evidence, stated that in his time as an officer he had not seen a property with as many designer items filling it.

"Mehdi Didda did not have any formal employment at this time.

"The Crown suggests that he could afford these extravagant purchases because he was a robber and a handler and guilty of his involvement in the Counts alleged against him.

"It is the Crown’s case that when you consider all of the evidence you hear, cumulatively and carefully, you will come to the conclusion that these men are guilty of their involvement as alleged."

The three men all deny 13 counts including conspiracy to rob and handling stolen goods. The trial continues. 
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