A GANG of thieves stole jewellery worth more than £1million from a travelling salesman as he browsed in an Oxfam shop.
The blue canvas bag containing the gems was snatched as the salesman looked at books in the charity store.
A young woman was seen acting suspiciously in the premises in South Street, Perth, shortly before the theft – and was later spotted getting into an old-model BMW car just before it sped off.
The 62-year-old salesman – who works for a prominent diamond merchant based in London’s Hatton Garden district – had visited a local jeweller’s shop shortly before the thieves struck.
Police believe he may have been followed from the Timothy Hardie shop in St John Street.
Mr Hardie said yesterday the gems had a wholesale value of £600,000 but their retail value was more than £1million.
The collection was a combination of new and antique jewellery.
One diamond necklace had been priced at £90,000.
Mr Hardie said: “The company are diamond wholesalers and I’ve been dealing with them for about 20 years.
“He came in at about 2.30pm and there were no customers in the shop at the time.
“A girl did come in and have a look around and the police are now saying they have CCTV footage of her in South Street, where the robbery took place.
“I didn’t notice her acting differently from any other customer.
“Shortly after 3pm, he came running back because his mobile phone was in the bag and he couldn’t call the police, so he phoned from here. He was in a hell of a state.
“There was nothing to mark him out as a salesman. Some of the bigger companies now have a minder with them, but he was on his own.”
Oxfam shop manager Walter Lindsay said the salesman had been “distraught” when he realised the bag had been stolen.
He said: “I wasn’t in yesterday and didn’t know what it was about or the extent of it until the police statement.
“I’ve spoken to both staff members who were on to get an update and they said the man was absolutely distraught and just ran out of the shop.
“It just took my breath away when I heard. We’ve never had anything like that before.”
A Tayside Police spokes-woman said a woman was seen acting suspiciously in the Oxfam shop on Tuesday afternoon.
She was aged 20-25, about 5ft 2in and slim.
The woman had long, dark-brown, wavy hair tied back in a ponytail and was wearing jeans, black trainers with white toes, a black jacket and a light-coloured top.
She was also carrying a light-coloured shopping bag with a pattern on it.
A woman matching her description was also seen with two men shortly after the theft.
One of the men was about 6ft and of Asian appearance, with thick, dark hair. He was wearing a black suit.
He was seen in South Street standing beside a four-door, dark saloon car, possibly a blue or black old-model BMW.
The second man was about 5ft 9in, of “dark European” appearance with thinning grey hair. He was seen running across South Street carrying a blue bag, closely followed by the woman.
All three got into the car, which then sped off.
Detective Inspector Mike Pirie said: ‘‘We’re very keen to hear from anyone who was in the area on Tuesday afternoon who may have seen any of these individuals either before or after the theft took place.
‘‘Detectives are in the process of examining both public and private CCTV footage from the area in a bid to identify those responsible.”
Police have urged anyone with information on the theft to contact them on 0300 1112222.