LONDON — The watch concession attacked by smash-and-grab thieves on Wednesday evening at Selfridges in Manchester will resume trading on Tuesday, according to a source close to the store.
In the meantime, Greater Manchester Police are continuing their hunt for three masked thieves who stole an estimated 700,000 pounds, or $1.1 million at current exchange, worth of watches by brands including Cartier, Hublot, Jaeger LeCoultre, and Audemars Piguet. No arrests have been made.
“By Tuesday the stock will be replaced, and the concessions will be trading as normal. The big damage is the loss of six days’ trading. Security at the watch concessions at all the Selfridges stores has been upgraded,” said a source close to the store.
As reported, thieves dressed in high-visibility jackets and trousers stormed the store with crowbars and stole the goods from the Time2 concession at the Manchester Exchange Square store. The attack happened shortly after 7:20 pm, during opening hours.
The thieves smashed cabinets with axes and crowbars, and made off with about 100 watches. They escaped via a black Mercedes-Benz, which was driven by a fourth member of the gang. The car was found abandoned shortly thereafter.
“A robbery took place at our Manchester Exchange Square store on Wednesday, 19 September, just after 7:20 p.m.,” Selfridges said in a statement. “The police are currently investigating and we are helping them with their enquiries.”
Adam Cronshaw, detective constable of Greater Manchester Police said in a statement: "This was a brazen robbery while the store was open and busy with members of the public,” said. “It was clearly well planned and executed. These men were in and out in less than 80 seconds and were very particular about the watches they selected.”
The industry source said it is most likely the thieves were retained by a larger criminal organization, and that the watches are no longer in the U.K. Over the past 5-6 weeks, thieves have been targeting watch and jewelry stores in the Greater Manchester area.