It reads like the trailer to a summer blockbuster action flick: a superstar Formula 1 driver gets his $300,000 watch stolen in a picturesque coastal Italian town, the thieves hop on a scooter and make a getaway, and the F1 racer gives chase in his Ferrari. But that’s exactly what happened almost one year ago to the day to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
This week, Italian police arrested four suspects in connection with the robbery of Leclerc, which took place on April 18, 2022, in the Tuscan city of Viareggio, as USA Today reported. While it’s not immediately clear if they recovered the F1 star’s high-end timepiece, the police said they recovered two “valuable watches, the provenance of which will be investigated further.” The Carabinieri, the national law enforcement agency who made the arrests, also released video footage from the incident.
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In the footage posted to Twitter, you can see Leclerc in a Ferrari 488 being followed by an Opel Mokka SUV, then pulling over and allowing the other car to pass (some have suggested Leclerc was attempting to get the license plate number). Later, the video allegedly shows the thieves on a scooter handing over the watch to accomplices in the SUV, and finally Leclerc going after those on the scooter. (The model of the cars here were identified by Autoblog.)
According to an account of the incident reported by the Daily Mail, here’s how the heist went down: Leclerc was out in Viareggio with his personal trainer, Andrea Ferrari, and was signing autographs and taking selfies with fans. Two people in motorcycle helmets approached and asked for a picture, and it wasn’t until afterwards that he realized his Richard Mille 67-02, a watch worth around $330,000, had been stolen from his wrist, and that it was the helmet-clad “fans” who had swiped it. At that time, the police were alerted.
Then, according to the video, Leclerc attempted to tail the thieves in his Ferrari. But it appears their coordinated handoff of the six-figure timepiece worked to divert attention — that is, until the police finally caught up with them a year later.
If one of the recovered watches does turn out to be Leclerc’s, maybe its return will bring some luck to its owner. The Ferrari driver, in his own words, is currently having “the worst start to the season ever” after crashing during the first lap of the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday.