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Woman Jailed For £4.2 Mln Diamond Heist Trick Which Left Jewellers With Worthless Pebbles

© Photo : Metropolitan PoliceLulu Lakatos carries out the switch at Boodles jewellery store in London
Lulu Lakatos carries out the switch at Boodles jewellery store in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.07.2021
New Bond Street in central London contains some of the most expensive jewellery shops in Europe and has been the target of a number of raids over the years. But in March 2016, a gang got away with £4.2 million in diamonds using a magic trick.
A Romanian woman who switched a bag with £4.2 million diamonds in it for one with seven worthless garden pebbles has been jailed by a court in London.
Lulu Lakatos, 60, posed as a gemologist called "Anna", working for a wealthy Russian investor called "Alexander" and arranged a deal after a lunch meeting at the exclusive Hotel Metropole in Monaco with Nicholas Wainwright, the owner of the Boodles jewellery store in London.
But when she went to collect the diamonds from Boodles’ store in London’s New Bond Street in March 2016 she played a trick on the owners.
The gems were put in a padlocked purse and were to be held in the jewellers’ vault until the money was transferred electronically but, as Mr Wainwright talked to “Alexander” on the phone Lakatos used sleight of hand to switch the purse with an identical one containing the pebbles.
The trick was only discovered after Lakatos left the store when Boodles’ diamond expert Emma Barton became suspicious and checked the purse in the vault.
The money from Alexander never arrived and police were immediately alerted.
Lakatos was eventually identified and in December 2020 was extradited from France.
© Photo : Metropolitan PoliceLulu Lakatos, who posed as a gemologist to steal diamonds
Lulu Lakatos, who posed as a gemologist to steal diamonds - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
Lulu Lakatos, who posed as a gemologist to steal diamonds
On Wednesday, 28 July, she was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to steal and was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
The diamonds have never been recovered and Lakatos claimed at the trial that the real culprit was her sister Liliana who died in a car crash in Romania in 2019.
Police in Switzerland believe Liliana Lakatos was behind an almost identical plot in which 400,000 euros was stolen using a duplicate envelope.
​Mickael Jovanovic and Christophe Stankovic were jailed for their part in the conspiracy but two female accomplices have never been found.
Acting Detective Sergeant William Man of the Flying Squad said: “This was an audacious theft, carried out in plain view of experienced and professional staff at a renowned jewellers. The meticulous planning and execution of this theft reveals to me that those involved were highly skilled criminals.”
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