Leeds company director robbed of Rolex watch in violent attack says city centre no longer feels safe

A COMPANY director subjected to a violent street robbery has said he no longer feels safe in the city he calls home.

Craig Burton, pictured in January wearing the watch that was robbed from him today.

Craig Burton, 53, was walking back to his home in Leeds city centre at about 3am today when two men accosted him.

They attacked him on Crown Street, striking him on the head and body before roughly pulling from his wrist a silver Rolex Submariner watch his later mother had given to him for his 40th birthday.

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Mr Burton said he had been left shaken, adding: “I’m quite a fit 53-year-old but I feel like I don’t want to leave my apartment now.

“I don’t feel safe in my city any more. I have felt like that for a while.”

Mr Burton said the authorities needed to try harder to get the balance right between encouraging Leeds’ night-time economy and keeping city-centre residents safe, saying they had just as much of a right to peace and security as those in outer towns and villages.

He said: "Leeds is like a city that doesn't sleep. But it is not a 24-hour city. It is not, and can't be, New York."

Mr Burton is director of a Leeds-based recruitment firm and also runs a social enterprise, Friends of Dorothy, which works to connect older and younger members of the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community.

He said they now do not hold events beyond 6pm for safety reasons.

A police spokesman said officers were investigating the robbery.

He said: "The victim, a 53-year-old man, was approached by two men, described as eastern European, who punched him repeatedly to the face and body and wrenched his Rolex watch from his wrist causing a cut to his hand/wrist.

"Enquiries are ongoing and we would we would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident or saw the suspects in the area. Also, if anyone has been offered a Rolex watch for sale in suspicious circumstances since the incident.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact Leeds District Crime Team via 101 quoting crime reference 13180587468.

"Officers are visiting the victim today to reassure him and ensure that all available safeguarding measures are put in place following this incident."

Chief Inspector Richard Padwell, who heads policing for Leeds city centre, said specialist detectives proactively targeted those committing street robberies.

He said: “While we have additional resources in place at the weekends for the night-time economy’s busiest times, we always aim to have officers as visible as possible in the city centre throughout the week.

“Specialist detectives from Leeds District Crime Team proactively target those committing street robberies and, working alongside their colleagues in the City Neighbourhood Policing Team, there have been a number of significant arrests of robbery and burglary suspects over recent weeks.

“We hold weekly tasking meetings where we focus on the main issues affecting the city centre and identify the areas where we need to target our resources.

“As with any city centre, there are issues of crime and anti-social behaviour and we continue to work hard in partnership to tackle these. On the whole such incidents are still thankfully rare and Leeds city centre is generally a safe place for people to live, work and socialise.”