A manhunt has been stepped up today for a £25,000 gem thief who has struck at jewellers across the south.

Detectives are now on the hunt for the thief who struck at a city centre jewellers – stealing more than £25,000 worth of rings.

The man walked into Picketts and Pursers in Southampton and told staff he had a budget of £10,000 to spend on an engagement ring.

But staff told police how, while viewing the jewellery, the man took three rings and ran out of the Above Bar shop at around 4pm on Tuesday.

He was chased by the sales manager who was then joined by members of the public in his bid to catch the thief but they eventually lost him when he ran into a nearby multistory car park.

Police are now appealing for any information to find the thie,f who officers believe may have committed similar offences at five other jewellers.

Daily Echo:

Officers are investigating raids at high class jewellers in Windsor, Kingston- Upon-Thames, Shepherds Bush, Worthing and Haywards Heath and believe the Southampton theft could be the latest in the series.

Officers have now released CCTV images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the theft.

He was described as black, in his early 30s, approximately 5ft 9in, with very short black hair, of athletic build and wearing glasses with short designer stubble on his face.

He was wearing a black tie, white shirt and black tailored trousers.

Anyone with information can contact Det Con Robert Cox at Shirley CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Have-a-go hero thanked

Daily Echo: Neil Francis

HAVE-a-go hero Neil Francis was among those who joined in the chase for the suspect.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo, the 36-year-old, pictured, described how he was shopping on a day off work and was standing on the opposite side of the road from the shop when he saw the man run out.

He said: “I just heard someone say ‘stop him, there has been a robbery’ and didn’t think twice.

“I just started running after him with the manager and another guy.”

Daily Echo:

Mr Francis described how they lost him when he got to the Marlands car park but did manage to retrieve some clothing they believe the man dropped during the pursuit.

He described how he initially thought there had been a bagsnatch and it was only later that
he found out the man he was chasing had stolen rings worth thousands of pounds.

Mr Francis said: “I just did what I thought was the right thing to do. I think it is important to get involved at times like that, you just do it.”

No one from Picketts and Purses wanted to comment on the theft, but the shop did wish
to thank the people who had helped to chase the man.