Up to $25,000 worth of watches have been stolen from an eyewear and accessories store in Napier.
Police were called to the theft at Spex Eyewear on Emerson St, Napier, about 10.45am on Friday.
Manager Mary Nichols said about 50 watches were in the cabinet at the time of the theft.
She said suspicions arose when a man wearing a bucket hat, sunglasses and gardening gloves entered the store.
"He was asking about all the watches and hanging around our watch case, so I asked him to leave as we didn't feel comfortable," she said.
"We had a feeling he was going to do something when he asked us to move the stuff off the top of the watch cabinet. He refused to leave and said we needed to take the stuff off the cabinet or he was going to take the whole thing."
Nichols said she attempted to grab the cabinet, before a short struggle ensued.
"There was a tussle, but I thought he might get violent so I left it and he ran out into a waiting car with the watch case," she said.
"The watches would be worth between $20,000 and $25,000."
A police spokeswoman said a person had reportedly left with a jewellery cabinet and its contents.
"No one was injured during the incident," she said.
Nichols said the man was about five foot seven (1.7m), of slim build and softly spoken, while the cabinet is about a metre high.
Police are making inquiries in the area, but time is ticking to locate the offender.