Woman “stole diamonds worth £ 4.2million by exchanging them for stones” | UK News
Woman stole £ 4.2million worth of diamonds from London luxury jeweler posing as a gemstone expert and trading them for garden pebbles in highly sophisticated heist , said a court.
Lulu Lakatos allegedly posed as a gemologist and claimed to examine and appraise seven diamonds at the Boodles showroom on New Bond Street in Mayfair, central London.
The jewelry was placed in a locked purse and had to be kept in the jewelers’ safe while awaiting payment. But when the bag was opened, after Boodles’ own diamond expert became suspect, inside were seven small pebbles, Southwark Crown Court heard.
“The diamonds were stolen by the accused by sleight of hand,” said prosecutor Philip Stott. “The plot in which she would have played a vital and central role was one of the most sophisticated, planned, risky and rewarded.”
Lakatos, 60, born in Romania but living in France, denies plotting to steal on or before March 10, 2016.
In February 2016, the court heard that Boodles president Nicholas Wainwright, 73, was introduced to an Israeli called “Simon Glas” who claimed he was interested in buying high-value diamonds as an investment. .
The couple met in Monaco a month later, where Wainwright was introduced to Glas’s alleged business partner, a Russian called “Alexander”, and the sale of seven high-value diamonds was agreed after further discussions.
Lakatos was said to have been the woman posing as a jewelry expert, “Anna,” sent to Boodles on March 10 to examine the stones, the court was told.
She was escorted by Wainwright into the jewelers basement meeting room with family business gemologist Emma Barton. The court heard Lakatos examine and weigh the diamonds before individually wrapping them in pre-cut tissue paper and placing them in opaque boxes, which were placed in a zippable purse-like bag which was then sealed by a padlock.
It is alleged that Lakatos then placed the locked purse in his own purse when Wainwright went upstairs to take a phone call from the alleged Russian buyer. Barton told him to put the bag back on the table.
“It looks like what happened was that it was swapped for an identical locked bag and that duplicate bag was put back on the table,” Stott said.
Wainwright asked to examine the purse and “made sure the bag was relatively empty and there was nothing unusual,” the court was told, and Lakatos left the store. .
Two other women, who were waiting at a nearby store, were walking next to her when she was seen tucking a purse-like object into one of their handbags, the court heard.
Stott said Lakatos, from the Saint-Brieuc region in northwestern France, changed in a public toilet before leaving London on the Eurostar with her own passport.
An accomplice accompanied him on the train as two male and two female members of the group traveled together through the Channel Tunnel in a rental car, the jury heard.
The next day, Boodles arranged for an x-ray of the locked bag, which revealed stones resembling diamonds were inside, but staff remained suspicious and therefore opened the purse. “Inside each of the opaque boxes was a small pebble instead of a diamond,” Stott said.
The stolen gemstones, worth a total of £ 4.2million, include a 20k heart-shaped diamond valued at over £ 2.2million and a fancy pear-shaped pink diamond from three carats of £ 1.1 million.
Two of the group’s members, Christophe Stankovic and Mickael Jovanovic, have already been found guilty of conspiring to steal the theft, jurors said.
Lakatos was arrested in France under a European arrest warrant in September last year before being extradited to the UK.
The trial continues.