Don’t Mess With a Watch Collector!

A good friend of mine told me to watch Crime Inc. on CNBC the other night, so I was sure to tape it. Once I watched it, I understood why she told me check it out.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad people in the world who steal from others. The statistics they were rattling off on the show were startling. For instance, approximately $7 million of goods were stolen during the hour-long program.

One of the stories the show focused on was that of a huge watch collector down in Palm Beach County, Florida. The gentleman did not want his name to be shared, so the show referred to him by the alias Peter Spencer. Peter Spencer is a serious watch collector that owned a watch collection valued at $1,000,000 back in 2009. “I don’t collect a watch that I personally don’t like,” he said. “I must like it and I wear it.”

Peter lived in a gated community in Palm Beach County that no one could drive into without knowing someone that lived there. In June 2009, while Peter was away from his home on business, his house was robbed and his watch collection was stolen. Peter and his wife immediately filed a police report once they knew the watches were stolen, but were told that the odds of the recovering the timepieces were slim to none. Watches and jewelry are extremely difficult to recover after being taken.

This watch enthusiast, however, was determined. He wanted justice to be served. “These are bad people,” he stated. “My main concern was to get them off of the streets.”

Peter started his detective work by checking every watch website that existed. Eventually, Peter saw what he believed to be one of his watches on a reputable dealer’s website. The collector kept a record of the serial numbers of all of the watches he owned and saw a match on the website. He proceeded to call the dealer and confirm that the Jaeger LeCoultre Extreme World Chronograph was his.

Peter alerted the Palm Beach County authorities and provided them with the first main part of their investigation. Apparently, the watch had exchanged hands several times before the dealer bought it. They traced the first sale of the watch back to a Florida pawnshop and eventually, the leader of a serious crime ring.

This gang of six thieves had made $12 million in profit from various burglaries over the course of ten years. In June 2010, they were arrested because of an initial lead from Peter Spencer. The moral of the story, don’t mess with a watch collector!


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