Robert Lewandowski runs after thief who stole watch as he signed autographs

FB Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski had his watch stolen as he signed autographs - Alex Caparros /Getty Images Europe
FB Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski had his watch stolen as he signed autographs - Alex Caparros /Getty Images Europe

A thief posing as a fan wrenched a watch worth a reported €70,000 (£59,000) from the wrist of FC Barcelona’s new star signing Robert Lewandowski as the player signed autographs.

As the Poland striker stopped his car before training on Thursday to pose with fans, a man snatched the watch from his arm.

It was the latest example of how specialised thieves operating in Spain’s second city have targeted wealthy tourists and residents wearing expensive watches.

The watch, which Spanish media said was a Patek Phillippe timepiece, was taken from Mr Lewandowski as he opened the window of his car to greet fans.

At first the player got out of his car and ran after the thief but lost sight of him, La Vanguardia newspaper reported.

Police later arrested the suspect and recovered the watch.

Police found man hiding and recovered watch

Mr Lewandowski, who was signed by FC Barcelona from Bayern Munich last month for £38m (€45m), went on to train normally ahead of FC Barcelona’s La Liga match against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan regional police, said: “Mr Lewandowski arrived for training at about 4.30pm and as he was signing autographs for fans another person reached into his car and took this watch off his arm.

“He got out of his car and tried to catch the thief, but he was unable to. The police took over and found the man hiding in a wood. We have recovered the watch which was worth €70,000.”

It is the latest case of organised gangs stealing high value watches from tourists or wealthy residents of Barcelona.

Police have created a specialist unit to deal with so-called relojeros who steal watches then sell them on the black market.

In June, members of this unit became doubtful about claims by Seth Bernstein, an American tourist, who said that thieves had stolen his watch which he claimed was worth $800,000.

Police said he had inflated the price of the Hublot Big Bang model by 20 times and in fact it was only worth $45,000.

In May, George Orwell’s son Richard Blair had his £10,000 Omega watch stolen by a robber who wrenched it from his wrist before running away.

The 78-year-old had only been in the Spanish city for a few hours as he was taking part in a tour of Spain to visit the sight of the trenches where Orwell fought during the Spanish Civil War.

Barcelona commemorates the writer with Plaza George Orwell.

FC Barcelona was unavailable for comment about the theft of Mr Lewandowski’s watch.