THIS is the dramatic moment when a brazen thief flees from a Hampshire jewellers wearing an £8,000 watch.

CCTV footage captures the man as he tries on the watch at a jewellers in Eastleigh before making his getaway chased by the store manager.

But despite the courageous efforts of Diane Devonshire, who ran after the thief as he fled out of the Swan Centre and up the road, he got away.

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David Mellor Jewellers manager Diane Devonshire chased after a thief who took a £8,000 Rolex

David Mellor Jewellers is now offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to a successful conviction for the theft.

The drama unfolded when the man first appeared interested in a watch in the display window of David Mellor Jewellers.

Mrs Devonshire gave him details and left him outside.

But then she said he came in wanting to try on the watch - a pre-owned stainless steel Rolex Sea-Dweller watch - one of the shop's most expensive items.

She tentatively got it out, but said her guard was up so she got him as close to the corner of the shop as she could.

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A Rolex Sea-Dweller

“He was a young lad looking at an expensive watch but I don't judge a book by its cover,” she said.

She put the watch on more slowly than she normally would, to keep a hold on it, and even held onto the price tags.

“As soon as it was done up he just fled,” she said.

“I chased him up to the road then I thought he's going to have it anyway.

“I nearly had him at the doors, though I don't know what I would have done.

“It wasn't brave, it was a natural instinct.”

Mrs Devonshire ran after him through the centre, telling her colleague to shut the doors, but did not feel she could leave the jewellers with one member of staff so gave up the chase.

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A CCTV image of the suspect in the shop

The man ran down Blenheim Road towards Southampton Road.

Mrs Devonshire said she had seen him in the centre earlier and was later told that he had popped his head into the shop several times.

She believes they were targeted because of the shop's proximity to the entrance.

Ms Devonshire, who has only fallen victim to a snatch once before in 25 years, added that the incident had left staff shaken by the incident but that security at the store and in the Swan Centre has been stepped up.

Anyone with information about the theft, which happened on Tuesday, at 3.50pm, should contact PC Mark Connor at Eastleigh Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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