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cityguru, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 13329
Experience:  solicitor
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I am a dealer in watches in a London Antique market, I purchased

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I am a dealer in watches in a London Antique market, I purchased a Rolex in 2009 and while the customer was present called Rolex to check it was not reported lost or stolen and they said it is o.k. for me to purchase which i did. Then in 2012 i sent the watch for repair and Rolex said it had been reported stolen 2 months after i had purchased it.

The person who originally owned the watch purchased it in dubai and has a receipt but did not pay the duty and VAT on purchased but smuggled the watch into the UK. He is now claiming the watch back but as he has committed a crime and I purchased it and followed the guide lines of Rolex then would i be able to keep the watch?
Unfortunately for you if the watch was stolen then you never go title to it and have no right to retain it. There used to be a rule about purchases in markets but that rule was abolished in 1994.

The fact that the rightful owner failed to pay duty on it simply menas that HMRC can confiscate it from him but it does not entitle you to keep it I am afraid. Equally you have no claim against Rolex who merely told you truthfully it had not ben reported stolen - they could not have know it was gong to be reported.

I am sorry to give you bad news but as a general rule you can never acquire ownership of stolen goods purchased from an individual.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The watch was valued a year before the original owner claimed it was lost or stolen, he may have insured the watch, so is there a bureau that we can check to see if he claimed on the insurance. Then surely if he did the watch would not have to be returned to him but maybe a deal could be done with the insurance company. I think the original owner may have claimed off the insurance and also given it to a friend to sell on his behalf as it was not reported to Rolex for two months which seems very strange and maybe fraud involved.

You could well be right. It all sounds pretty dodgy. You could try reporting it to the insurance fraud bureau see detail below.
I agree it is very strange. Ask his solicitors to provide a crime number for the theft report. It is possible as you say he sold it and then tried to claim it back.