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Rolex watch worth £8,500 stolen from Gillingham man in envelope-switch con

The victim of a professional con has warned others to be vigilant after the theft of his £8,500 Rolex watch.

Paul Reading, 54, of Peverel Green in Gillingham had arranged to sell the watch after advertising it on Gumtree, and hoped the sale would help him and his family through hard times.

The £8,500 Rolex watch stolen from Paul Reading
The £8,500 Rolex watch stolen from Paul Reading

But he was left empty handed after a thief posing as a buyer came to his house and tricked him into handing it over for nothing.

Mr Reading said the man had given him an envelope containing the correct amount of cash - which had been placed on a table - but had then distracted him and switched the envelope for one containing lottery tickets.

The thief had then asked to be escorted to the end of the road, saying he was unsure of the area, which gave him time to get away before Mr Reading returned to the house and realised he had been duped.

"I'm more annoyed than anything," said Mr Reading. "He's wiped us out. To lose £8,500-£9,000 is enough to make anybody upset.

"I feel like my house has been invaded. They're professional thieves and conmen. It's a big loss of money and especially in the climate right now. We're in a massive pandemic, people are working from home. This was meant to go in the bank to see us through some bad times."

To make matters worse his insurance company are not prepared to cover the theft, although Mr Reading is hoping to challenge the decision through the Ombudsman.

In the meantime, he says the incident has also affected his daughter, and exacerbated his own health problems.

"My little girl is not happy about what's gone on in the house," he explained. "She's 10 and she has partial autism and ADHD. "She's also under Great Ormond Street because she has scoliosis - her spine is bent.

"She's at home all the time. It's hard enough dealing with lockdown without someone coming into your house and robbing you."

Kent Police confirmed they had has received a report that a Rolex watch was fraudulently taken from a man in Gillingham.

A statement added: "The item is said to have been taken after a man went to collect it from an address in Peveral Green on November 6, having previously arranged to collect it through an online discussion.

"An envelope containing cash was given to the victim, however it is said to have been swapped for a package containing waste paper without the victim noticing.

"Inquiries into the incident, which include forensic checks and a review of available CCTV, are ongoing."

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