DETECTIVES hunting a gang who sledgehammered into a jewellers to swipe a £70,000 haul of designer watches have traced a suspected getaway car.
Two men smashed their way through the window of the Chisholm Hunter store at the Almondvale shopping centre, in Livingston, during the daring raid.
It is understood CID officers have since found a red two-seater pick-up truck which was used as a getaway car following the heist, which took place at around 3.45am yesterday.
The registered owner of the car was shocked to be visited by detectives yesterday, but it is believed he is not involved. It is not known whether the car had been sold on or stolen.
The breakthrough came as police continued to investigate the theft of the 30 Tag Heuer watches.
Detective Constable Bruce Kennedy, of Police Scotland, said: “This was a brazen crime which has led to the theft of 30 watches, worth thousands of pounds each, being stolen.
“Anyone who believes they have been offered the stolen items for sale, or has any other information that can assist our inquiries, should get in touch.”
Tracey Brown, director of Chisholm Hunter, said that the watches had individual serial numbers which they hoped would allow police to recover the haul.
Ms Brown added: “We would like to thank the police for their help and speedy response to the incident. While we are very upset about the theft of these watches, we are first and foremost relieved that it happened at night and there was no threat to the safety of our staff and customers.
“We would like to thank the staff who as always went the extra mile to ensure that the store was secure and trading again within a matter of hours, and of course the shopping centre management.”
Swiss luxury brand Tag Heuer watches cost between £800-70k and were a favourite of screen idol Steve McQueen.
The raid was the latest high-profile jewellery snatch to hit the Lothians. In January two men stole jewellery and watches worth £730,000 from the Rox store in George Street.
Elliot Jorgensen, 25, and Anthony Boyd, 26, were later jailed for threatening staff with a revolver and an axe, while one female worker was dragged across the shop.
And in April thieves planned to steal of jewels from Macintyres of Edinburgh Ltd in Frederick Street by cutting a hole through a domed glass roof and lowering themselves in with ropes and climbing gear.
This was just hours before £50,000 worth of Rolex watches were stolen from Laings in the same street.
Watches that tick all the boxes
TAG Heuer has long been among the world’s most sought after and expensive watch brands.
The Swiss company began as Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG in 1860, founded by Edouard Heuer. The name is an abbreviation for Techniques d’Avant Garde and the surname Heuer. In 1999, sold TAG Heuer was sold to French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH - which runs Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton.
Celebrity wearers include Tiger Woods and Leonardo DiCaprio.