POLICE are continuing to investigate an ongoing spate of Rolex watch thefts and robberies in Dorset, which has seen elderly men targeted by groups of women - often making affectionate advances or posing as charity collectors.

The victims are usually aged in their 70s or above - and Dorset Police has urged residents to speak to elderly relatives if they believe they may be targeted.

Who are the 'Rolex Rippers?'

Similarities between the victims' accounts have seen the tabloid press coin the term 'Rolex Rippers' - however victims have given varied descriptions of the age, appearance and nationality of the offenders.

Police say they are described in most cases as Eastern European women and speaking in broken English. Some of the victims have described them as Spanish or Portuguese, and another said he was targeted by a white woman with blonde hair.

In one dramatic incident a gang of four men and a teenage boy were arrested following a high-speed police chase. It is alleged that the group attempted to steal a Rolex watch from a jewellers' shop.

It is reported that there have been 22 Rolex watch thefts in the south of England so far.

Here are a few of the latest cases Dorset Police have been dealing with, in date order:

Gold Rolex stolen by women who hugged man in car park

Dorset Echo: Bell Street car park, ShaftesburyBell Street car park, Shaftesbury

On Saturday October 16 a man in his 60s had his gold Rolex stolen in a distraction theft in Shaftesbury after two women asked him for directions.

The victim was in the Bell Street car park at around 3.57pm when one of the suspects handed him a pen and asked him to write down a street name. She thanked the victim for his help and hugged him, before the two women ran off. A short time later he noticed his watch was missing.

The first suspect is described as Asian, with long dark hair, of slim build and was wearing a blue T-shirt and a blue surgical face mask. No description was obtained for the second woman.

Man in his 70s targeted by 'affectionate' women

On Saturday October 16 the victim was outside an address in Cliff Drive, Poole, at around 2.40pm when he was approached by two women.

They were asking about the name of the property, gave him a pencil and paper to write it down and were affectionate towards him.

He tried to push them off and as the women left the man realised the Rolex watch he had been wearing on his wrist was gone.

One of the women was described as being aged in her 40s and the other in her 20s, they were believed to be Romanian and were wearing face masks.

Bogus charity collectors target man in his 90s

Dorset Echo: Police released this image following Rolex theft in PoolePolice released this image following Rolex theft in Poole

Between 12.30pm and 1pm on Tuesday, September 21, a man aged in his 90s was approached by two women in Links Road, Poole.

One of the women had a clipboard and was asking the man to sign a petition for a charity. After he signed it, the woman pulled the victim in for a hug and they then left the scene.

A few minutes later the man discovered his watch was missing.

Police released images of the suspects. Police urged people to remain vigilant if they are approached in similar circumstances, particularly if wearing a high value watch or item of jewellery.

Attempted theft of Rolex leads to high-speed car chase

On Thursday September 23 a shop worker was injured during the alleged attempted theft of a Rolex watch which culminated in a high-speed car chase stretching from Bournemouth to Ringwood.

Dorset Police received a report at 2.50pm that a man attempted to steal a Rolex watch from the Arcade Jewellers in Bournemouth Arcade. It is alleged that a staff member was assaulted, sustaining various minor injuries.

Police said a vehicle believed to be involved in the incident made off from the scene. Officers attended, carried out a search of the area – assisted by the NPAS helicopter – and followed the vehicle.

The pursuit ended in a car crashing outside of Ringwood School. A 37-year-old man, two men aged 22, a 21-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy, all from the London area, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery. One of the men was also arrested on suspicion of assault. and five men were arrested.

Elderly man targeted by fake charity collector

Dorset Echo: Woodlands Crescent at Poundbury in DorchesterWoodlands Crescent at Poundbury in Dorchester

At around 2.30pm on Saturday July 17 an elderly man was approached on Woodlands Crescent, Poundbury by a woman asking for donations toward a charity for blind and deaf people.

The victim told the woman that he did not have any cash and she asked him to sign a form instead. As he signed, the woman grabbed his hand firmly.

Shortly after the incident, the victim realised that his Rolex watch, of high sentimental value, had been stolen.

The woman told the victim that she was Portuguese and is described as being fairly short with dark hair.

Man in his 70s has Rolex stolen from his wrist near golf club

Dorset Echo: Another theft was reported near car park of Ferndown Golf ClubAnother theft was reported near car park of Ferndown Golf Club

At 11.15am on Wednesday, July 14, a man aged in his 70s was robbed of a Rolex watch he had been wearing at Ferndown Golf Club in Golf Links Road.

It was reported that the victim was on a footpath near to the car park when a woman approached him, grabbed his arm and took the watch from his wrist. He sustained a minor injury to his finger.

The woman returned to the car park where she got into a waiting vehicle, believed to be a black Ford Focus that was being driven by a man, and they made off from the scene.

The woman is described as white with tanned skin, around five feet six inches tall and of slim build, aged in her mid-20s and with dark hair.

She was wearing a black dress and black face mask and is believed to have spoken in a Spanish accent.

Man in 80s has gold Rolex stolen by woman who ‘made sexual advances’

Dorset Echo: Howards Lane car park, WarehamHowards Lane car park, Wareham

At around 11.30am on Friday 11 June a man aged in his 80s was getting into his vehicle, parked in Howard’s Lane car park, Wareham, when he noticed a woman walk toward his car.

She stopped to say hello and then got into the vehicle passenger side uninvited, leant across him and made sexual advances toward him, which was not welcome. When the victim asked the woman to leave she became aggressive.

The woman grabbed the victim's hand and scratched it, she then left the vehicle. The victim subsequently discovered that his gold Rolex watch had been stolen.

The suspect is described as around 40 years old, five feet nine inches tall, of large build and with medium-length dark hair worn down. She wore a white top, dark trousers and pale red lipstick.

Man in his 70s has Rolex was stolen by woman who grabbed his arm in the street

Dorset Echo: Bingham Avenue in PooleBingham Avenue in Poole

A man aged in his 70s was walking along Bingham Avenue in the Lilliput area of Poole at around 2.40pm on Sunday, May 30, when a woman started a conversation with him.

Following a short interaction, the woman held the victim’s arm forcefully and stole his Rolex watch which was stainless steel with a green bezel and a black face.

Police say the woman left the scene in a grey or silver-coloured vehicle.

She is described as white, approximately aged between 25 and 35 years old, five feet eight inches tall and well-built with blonde hair.

What Dorset Police has said about Rolex watch thefts

Police have issued a plea for members of the public to remain vigilant, particularly if they are wearing expensive watches or items of jewellery.

"Each of these incidents is subject to a full investigation and we're doing everything we can to identify those involved," Detective Sergeant Karen Penn said.

"We're working with other forces who have experienced similar incidents and sharing intelligence as part of our ongoing enquiries."

DS Penn added: "The victims in these cases are generally men aged around 70 or older and we would urge members of the public to talk to any elderly relatives who could be targeted by this kind of offending to make them aware of these incidents.

"The offenders, who are described in most cases as Eastern European women and speaking in broken English, often pose as people working for a charity and we would remind the public that a genuine charity worker should have no issue with showing their identification if required to do so.

"We would continue to urge anyone who has been a victim of an offence of this nature to report it to police and we would also like to hear from anyone who has come across expensive watches such as Rolexes being offered for sale in suspicious circumstances."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55210086480.

Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call freephone 0800 555 111.