A GEM thief ran off with a haul of diamond rings after tricking a shop assistant.
Police and staff at the Widnes branch of H Samuel are staying tight-lipped about the precise value of rings stolen but have confirmed they are worth a 'substantial' amount of cash.
The haul consisted of diamond cluster rings of various designs, made from yellow gold in nine and 18 carats.
Police say the offender entered the shop in Albert Square and asked to see a tray of diamond rings which were on display in the window.
An assistant placed the tray on the counter and, to her amazement, the man snatched the whole tray and sprinted from the premises.
He was last seen heading towards the Prince of Wales pub.
The shop's manager, Terry Sanders, said: 'We think 15 rings were stolen altogether, but we can't be certain if anything else was taken until we do a stock take.
'We cannot give a cost on the rings but, needless to say, the items were of a substantial value.
'The offender just walked in, asked to see the rings and then grabbed them. He ran out of the shop like greased lightning.
'We have had things stolen very occasionally but this is the first time something like this has happened to us. We are backing the police call for witnesses to come forward and would urge anyone with information to report it.
'We have had a good response so far - we have even got a name, but we don't know if this checks out yet.'
Police have issued a description of the offender. He was white, approximately 5ft 10ins and in his mid 30s. He had short, sandy hair which poked out from beneath his baseball cap.
He wore glasses but police suspect they may have been a disguise. He spoke with a Widnes accent.
He had slight stubble but otherwise had a fair, clean complexion and wore a beige baseball cap without markings and beige tracksuit top with a zip. His beige trousers possibly matched his tracksuit top.
* Witnesses or anyone who thinks they can help the police investigation into the theft, which occurred at 2.40pm on March 2, should contact the officers on the case, DC Jim Earlam or DC Darren Riley, on 01244 613 735. Alternatively, information can be left in the strictest confidence on Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.