AN ARMED thief hijacked a taxi after stealing £100,000-worth of Rolex watches from an Edinburgh jewellers.
The man, who had most of his face concealed with a scarf and a hood, entered Laing the jewellers on Frederick Street with a handgun at 09:30am.
He demanded staff hand over between 12 and 15 Rolex watches worth £100,000, all of which had been on display in the front of the shop.
The thief tried to hijack a black taxi and a van, before getting into the front passenger seat of a private hire cab in Hanover Street.
There was a 19-year-old male student already in the back of the taxi. The thief showed the driver his gun and forced him to take him on a 10-minute drive to Pilton, where he got out at the junction between Pilton Drive North and Royston Mains Crescent.
No-one was hurt in the incident, but police said the young passenger was shaken up by the experience.
Police are looking for a white male in his early 30s, 5ft 10in tall who was wearing a dark padded hooded jacket, blue trousers and a blue and white scarf. He was carrying a black and white rucksack.
They are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the man on Frederick Street, Rose Street, Hanover Street or in the Pilton area.
Det Insp Grant Johnston, of Police Scotland, said: “This robbery left the staff badly shaken but thankfully unhurt.
“We cannot at this time say whether it was a planned robbery. We are carrying out door to door inquiries and analyzing CCTV footage.
“We are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the man, or has information about the crime, so that we can trace him as soon as possible.”
A waiter at Chiquitos on Frederick Street, next door to Laing’s, said: “We didn’t notice anything until police put up tape this morning.
“We’ve had a lot of people asking about it but unfortunately none of our staff saw anything.”
Established in 1840 Laing is Scotland’s oldest family jeweller.
The Edinburgh store first opened its doors in 1978 and specialise in luxury watches and jewellery.
A sign posted on the shop front yesterday [Monday] afternoon read: “Following the incident in our store this morning, we can thankfully confirm that no-one was injured.
“It has been a stressful experience for our staff so we have taken the decision to close the store for business for the rest of the day and let the police focus on their investigation.”
Just last year, three masked robbers stormed Hamilton and Inches jewellers in Edinburgh and made off with items worth £2m, including a £325,000 diamond necklace.
In 2013, two men raided the ROX store on George Street, taking £1m worth of jewellery before making off on a motorbike. The pair, who wielded an axe and a gun during the raid, were jailed for a total of 22 years.
Rolex is the largest single luxury watch brand in the world, producing roughly 2,000 watches per day. The most expensive was a classic 1942 Rolex watch sold for over £700,000 at auction.