Detectives investigating a kidnapping that involved the victim being held hostage at knifepoint at a suburban house in Thornton Heath have made two arrests.
A 28-year-old man and a 19-year-old man were arrested on Sunday December 10 on suspicion of kidnap. They have now been taken to a south London police station for questioning. Enquiries continue to trace suspects three and four.
The 24-year-old victim’s ordeal – which included being stripped naked, tied up, and threatened with a gun – began at around 2pm on Monday December 4, when he was approached in London Road, near the junction with Lyndhurst Road, by two men he is believed to have met previously.
They encouraged him to accompany them on foot to a property on a street in the Thornton Heath area – and pointed out his gold Rolex watch – a 2007 model worth around £9,000 – demanding to know if it was real.
He was led into the house – where a group of men were waiting for him armed with weapons. Over the course of the next two plus days he was subjected to an extended bout of physical abuse and humiliation that included his attackers kicking him in the face, which left him with severe bruising on his lips and a large lump on his forehead. Threats were also made with knives and a gun.
During his imprisonment at the house, the victim was forced by the men to phone his parents to request that they hand over a significant sum of money to his kidnappers. When they said they were unable to, their son was forced to hand over his keys to their home so two of the gang could go and burgle the address.
The moving footage CCTV clip released by detectives captures the moment on the day of Wednesday, 6 December that two of the suspects suspect three and suspect four approach and enter the house on a road in Sydenham. The men took a large sum of cash, designer handbags, designer sunglasses and further Rolex watches. Overall the worth of the items stolen amounted to a significant sum.
As his forced imprisonment approached its third evening, a number of the group forced the victim to get into a car in order to drive to a branch of the Metro bank in the North End, Croydon to withdraw money from his account.
When the victim had got out of the car and onto the street his attackers stayed behind in the vehicle – it is believed for fear of their faces being recorded on CCTV cameras – the victim saw his opportunity to escape and ran. He fled to a nearby church, Croydon Minster, and asked for help. The police were called and arrived shortly afterwards.
Detective Sergeant Samuel Bennett of Croydon CID said: “This was a vicious and prolonged attack of a nature that thankfully is very rare. It has left the victim utterly distraught and traumatised.
“We are urgently seeking any information on the other individuals involved, who we believe could number up to twelve, but particularly those whose images and details we have released, notably the two men who showed up at the address in high visibility vests.
“Do you recognise either of the two men shown burgling the house in the cctv images – or did you see them in Sydenham on the day in question, Wednesday, 6 December.
“Perhaps you have been offered a Rolex like the one stolen from the victim, or bought a similar model in good faith over the past few days? It is described as a 2007 model with a black face, black bezel, yellow gold body and strap – we have sourced a photo of a similar model for the public to check.
“Any information you have, however small, could prove vital to us as we piece together the events leading up to and following the kidnap. We will treat any information provided in the strictest of confidence.
“These men are dangerous and it is important that we apprehend them before they can target anyone else.”
Anyone with information should call Croydon CID on 101 or tweet @MetCC. The independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.
*Two men aged 39 and 58 were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping on Friday 8 December, and taken into custody. They were subsequently bailed to return to a south London police station on a date in early January, 2018.