It’s the sort of thing that always happens in crime movies – millions of pounds worth of diamonds get stolen from a high-end, high-security jewellers’ using an almost unbelievable level of deceit and trickery.
Mayfair jeweller Boodles was the site of a real heist straight out of Hollywood in 2016, when Lulu Lakatos allegedly swapped seven diamonds worth £4.2 million for some much less valuable stones. She gained access to the gems by pretending to be a gemologist who needed to examine and value the jewels, but instead swiped them for herself, leaving a little sack of pebbles behind in their place.
Lakatos initially got away with it – until Boodles’ diamond expert went to examine the bag and found the valuables were missing. Among them were a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond worth more than £2.2m and a three-carat pear-shaped pink diamond valued at £1.1m.
The woman didn’t act alone, with a crew reportedly on hand to help her pull off the con. After examining the diamonds and putting them into a padlocked purse, she put the purse into her own bag – only to be told to put it back on the table by the showroom’s own gemologist, Emma Barton. Yet it seems Lakatos was prepared for this and switched the purse for an identical one that she’d brought along with her.
After she left the jeweller’s, she was seen putting an object similar to the purse in the handbag of a woman who had been waiting in a nearby shop. She then changed her outfit in a public toilet and jumped on the Eurostar back to her home in France, joined by a female accomplice. Two other women and two men thought to also be involved travelled on the same train.
While the heist might sound quite ingenious in parts, it’s also a reminder that crime doesn’t pay. Two men, Christophe Stankovic and Michael Jovanovic, have already been convicted of conspiracy to steal. Lakatos has denied the charges against her and is standing trial at Southwark Crown Court now.