Former Arsenal footballer Laureano ‘Lauren’ Bisan-Etame Mayer flew to London this morning to collect a Rolex watch stolen from him in March 2005.
The watch was among 400 items recovered by Tower Hamlets police in searches dubbed ‘Operation Avitus’ at addresses in Essex and east London last July.
After enquiries with Rolex suggested the watch belonged to Mayer, Arsenal Football Club helped Tower Hamlets police track down the former player to inform him of their find.
Detective Sergeant Richard George, of the Tower Hamlets Crime Squad, said: “We are delighted to be able to reunite Lauren with his watch. We are utilising every tool available to us to identify as many victims as possible.”
During the operation, a 73-year-old man was arrested for handling stolen goods. He has been bailed and will be brought to an east London police station this December, when further inquiries will be carried out.
Mayer’s Rolex was one of many high-value and collectible watches stolen in armed robberies on jewellery stores and household burglaries from 1994 to 2010.
Police also recovered a trove of antiques, valuable jewellery and a pump action Remington rifle. The total value of the stolen items is thought to be in excess of £500,000.
Tower Hamlets police have created a Flickr page, containing over 200 images, to allow the public to spot items stolen from them.
George said: “Using Flickr means we can display all of the property in an easily accessible way. We hope that victims will look through the images and recognise their property.”
Members of the public who believe their property is displayed in the Flickr gallery are encouraged to contact Tower Hamlets Crime Squad on 020 8217 3743, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.