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Woman stole gems worth millions by swapping them for pebbles using ‘sleight of hand’, court hears

Written by on 20/07/2021

A woman stole diamonds worth £4.2m from a luxury jeweller in London by swapping the gems for pebbles using “sleight of hand”, a court has been told.

In 2016, Lulu Lakatos allegedly posed as a gemmologist called “Anna”, instructed by a group posing as wealthy Russian investors who wanted to buy the luxury stones from Boodles.

She went to the family firm’s showroom in New Bond Street, Mayfair, to value seven diamonds before placing them into a locked bag, which was held by the jewellers pending a transfer of funds, a jury was told.

Booddles, New Bond Street, London
Image: The jeweller realised the diamonds had been swapped the next day

“The diamonds had been stolen by the defendant by sleight of hand,” said prosecutor Philip Stott.

“The conspiracy in which she is alleged to have played an integral and central part was one of the highest possible sophistication, planning, risk, and reward.”

Lakatos, 60, who was born in Romania but lived in France, denies conspiracy to steal on or before 1 March 2016.

The court was told that in February 2016, Boodles chairman Nicholas Wainwright was introduced to a man calling himself “Simon Glass”, who said he was interested in buying high-value diamonds as an investment.

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The pair met in Monaco the following month, where Mr Wainwright was introduced to Glas’s business partner, a Russian called “Alexander”, and the sale was agreed upon after further discussion.

The gems, worth a total of £4.2m, included a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond valued at over £2.2m and a three-carat pear-shaped pink diamond worth £1.1m .

Nicholas Wainwright, Chairman of Boodles, leaving Southwark Crown Court, London following a hearing in the trial of Lulu Lakatos who is charged with conspiracy to steal. Picture date: Monday July 19, 2021.
Image: Nicholas Wainwright, chairman of Boodles, leaving Southwark Crown Court following a hearing in the trial of Lulu Lakatos who is charged with conspiracy to steal

A woman valuing the jewels calling herself “Anna” said she was instructed by the buyers to examine the stones before they were stored in a locked bag until Boodles received payment.

Mr Stott said Lakatos allegedly examined and weighed the seven diamonds before individually wrapping them in pre-cut tissue paper and placing them inside opaque boxes.

“When the examination was complete, the boxes were placed into a zippable purse-like bag, which was then padlocked shut,” he told the jury.

“The woman posing as Anna looked confused and did as she was told.

“But, unseen by Emma Barton, however, it seems what happened was it was swapped for an identical locked bag and that duplicate bag was placed back on the table.

“The locked purse-like bag containing the examined diamonds was then placed inside the shop’s safe, and the defendant walked out of the shop.”

The court was told that Lakatos transferred a purse-like object from her handbag to the handbag of two unknown women, who had been browsing in the nearby Ralph Lauren and Cartier stores before discarding her hat and scarf and changing her clothes in a pub toilet.

She then used her own passport to leave London on the Eurostar, the court heard.

Jurors were told that two men, Christophe Stankovic and Mickael Jovanovic – who have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal over the theft – made their getaway with the two younger women to France in a rented Citroen through the Channel Tunnel.

All of the six allegedly involved were out of the country within three hours of the theft, which was discovered the following day after Boodles sent the bag to be X-rayed, the jury heard.

Lakatos was arrested in France on a European Arrest Warrant last September before being extradited to the UK.

The trial, which is expected to last three days, continues.

 Sky News

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