A French woman has been charged for allegedly posing as a diamond expert to steal £4.2million worth of gems by swapping them for pebbles.
The heist took place at the Boodles jewelry store in Mayfair, central London – which counts Victoria Beckham and Rebecca Thompson among its customers, The Sun reported.
Lulu Lakatos, 59, pretended to be a gemologist inspecting diamonds on behalf of Russian businessmen before swapping them while employees were distracted, a British court was told yesterday.
She worked with Mikael Jovanovic, Christophe Stankovic, and other unnamed people in a 2016 heist described by prosecutors as ‘sophisticated, well-planned and ingeniously orchestrated conspiracy’.
The gang left the UK within three hours of the theft, according to the report.
Lulu Lakatos, who called herself Anna, was extradited from France last month and was charged with conspiracy to steal. She pleaded not guilty through a French interpreter at the Southwark crown court.
But the two men Mickael Jovanovic and Christophe Stankovic already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, according to the report.
Lakatos only spoke to confirm her name, date of birth, and to enter a not guilty plea.
Judge Joanna Korner QC added: “As I understand it, she’s the woman known as Anna.”
According to the report, Boodles chairman Nicholas Wainwright was contacted the month before the theft by a diamond buyer.
They agreed to meet in Monaco, where Mr Wainwright was introduced to two men claiming to be Russian businessmen, who settled on buying seven diamonds. They asked for a gemologist to inspect them prior to purchase. On the day of the robbery, four of the gang were seen pretending to window shop in Mayfair while Lakatos, posing as ‘Anna’, headed to Boodles, court was told.
In a raid likened by police to the thefts in the Ocean’s Eleven films, Georgeta Danila, 52, then allegedly appeared to help her into a disguise in pub toilets before they left the country, Daily Mail reported.
She was seen on CCTV leaving and placing a ‘purse-like object’ into an unknown woman’s bag, the court heard. She went into pub toilets, where Danila followed her with luggage, said the prosecutor, before Lakatos emerged in a new outfit. Danila, of no fixed address, denies a charge of conspiracy to steal. She was extradited from France back in July, according to the report.
Lakatos, who was extradited from France last month, was remanded into custody after appearing in court yesterday. Trial will continue on July 19.