JEWELLERY giant Ernest Jones refused to say whether it will reward a man who found and returned £500,000 of stolen trinkets.

Watches, rings and necklaces - stolen during a raid on the retailer's Lakeside shopping centre store - in the early hours of Saturday, April 12, were found by a South Ockendon man almost three weeks ago.

But despite unearthing the huge haul – which was packed in a holdall and concealed by shrubs in the garden of his Darenth Lane home - and ensuring its safe return to Ernest Jones, the high street retailer refused to say whether the man would get a reward.

Meanwhile, police thanked the man for his public spiritedness.

A spokesman for Ernest Jones said: “Our efforts are focused upon ensuring the welfare of our staff and we’ll be spending time with each of them to offer them counselling following this robbery.

“We ask you to refer to the police report for all other information and please do not ask our colleagues for further quotes or insights as not only is this unsettling for them, this is an official police investigation.”

The jewels were stolen in a well planned 3am raid on the first-floor shop, near House of Fraser, which recently underwent an expensive refurb.

The burglary came shortly before a second raid was reported in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon.

Roadblocks, made up of tyres which had been set alight, were set up around the mall.

Eight Romanian men were later charged with the burglaries and are due to appear in Basildon Crown Court on July 14.

Det Insp Paul Lopez, of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “The holdall contained items taken from an aggravated burglary which happened in the early hours of Saturday, April 12.

“The jewellery has been returned to the store and the member of the public has been thanked for his public spiritedness.”