A man posing as a customer stole a $177,000 pair of diamond earrings Monday from Saks Fifth Avenue in the Shops at Mission Viejo, authorities said.
"They were probably on sale after Christmas," said Lt. Steve Fauchier of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "He's probably getting a bargain at $177,000. Maybe they were $200,000 before the sale."
Fauchier described the jewelry as drop earrings with five diamonds on each stud.
Sheriff's Lt. Rich Paddock said the thief entered the store at 11:05 a.m. and asked to see the earrings, which were in a display case. When the clerk removed them, Paddock said, the man grabbed them from her and fled.
A man fitting the description of the robber had been in the store last week to look at the jewelry.
Witnesses described him as black, about 6 feet 3 inches tall, 240 pounds, with a thin mustache. He was wearing a Raiders cap, a black shirt with "Nike" on the collar, jeans and brown shoes, police said.
Saks executives would not comment on the case, said Lindsay Naccarato, executive assistant to the general manager at the store, which opened in September.
Investigators are reviewing the store's surveillance videotapes for more information.