POLICE are appealing for help in tracing a serial thief.

A Rolex watch worth more than £8,000 was stolen from Carters Jewellers in the Market Place shopping centre.

The thief was posing as a customer and asked to see the red and gold Rolex watch and started to handle it. He then ran off with the watch towards Knowsley Street.

Officers have now issued images of a man they want to help with the investigation.

The thief is described as being white, about 25- years-old, 5ft 10in tall and of a slim build. He had dark shaved hair and was wearing a quilted grey jacket, similar to a Duffle coat, with toggles on, and dark blue jeans. He also spoke with a Bolton accent.

Police also believe the same man may be responsible for two other thefts of jewellery in the Lancashire area during which a gold ring valued at more than £2,000 and a diamond ring worth nearly £3,000 were stolen.

PC James Burland said: “We believe this man may be responsible for three brazen thefts of jewellery in the Lancashire and Manchester areas. On the last occasion, he ran off with a watch worth more than £8,000 after posing as a customer.

“I would urge businesses, particularly jewellers, to study the image and if you see this man coming into your store to call us.

“Similarly, I would ask anyone who recognises this man to call us.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 5655.