ARMED robbers behind a £1.3 million jewellery heist are likely to have to sell their haul abroad, police believe.
Three balaclava-clad men threatened staff with knives and swords, and smashed open display cases at the Hamilton & Inches store in George Street a week ago.
It is thought they travelled from Manchester and spent up to 48 hours in Scotland before last Friday’s raid.
They made their escape in a white BMW car, driven by a fourth man, which was seen to drive east along George Street, down Howe Street and along Heriot Row.
A £300,000 gold and diamond necklace, eight Swiss-made Patek Philippe & Co watches and a collection of valuable rings were among the items taken.
At least one of the distinctive top of the range watches is worth more than £60,000.
Inspectors said it was unlikely the loot would be sold in the UK as each watch and diamond has a unique serial number, meaning they cannot be sold to any authorised dealer without paperwork.
Detective Inspector Carol Craig, leading the manhunt, said: “No reputable dealer would handle these items. The diamonds each have a unique number lasered into them, and the watches also carry a serial number. They come with documents, which makes it highly likely they will be sold abroad.
“The assumption is that they will be shipped out of the country. I am assuming it must go abroad as you cannot do anything without the certificates.”
The getaway car was stolen in Greater Manchester before it was “cloned” with an identical vehicle in Liverpool to throw police off their trail.
Experts have since swabbed the vehicle, which was ditched within minutes of the raid for a second car, described as “dark coloured and large”.
A number of items found in the leased BMW, that did not belong to the owner, are now being tested for any traces of DNA. Police are keen to trace the make and model of the second car and the route it used out of the Capital. The street where the car swap took place has no CCTV cameras.
Detective Inspector Craig added: “We need to know what this car is and where it went.
“We also still do not have a direction the BMW came from to do the robbery, but think it was north of the Border for a day and a half at least before it.”
Police will today question motorists and passers-by outside the jewellers in an attempt to find new eye witnesses.