Conwoman, 60, who posed as gem expert to steal £4.2m of diamonds ordered to pay back less than £250


A conwoman who stole diamonds worth £4.2 million by swapping them for pebbles in the biggest theft of its kind has been ordered to pay back less than £250.

Lulu Lakatos, 60, is serving a five-and-a-half year sentence after she was found guilty of conspiracy to steal last year over the plot likened to a Hollywood heist movie.

Southwark Crown Court heard she posed as gem expert ‘Anna’, to swipe seven stones from luxury Mayfair jewellers Boodles after being sent to value them on behalf of supposed wealthy Russian buyers.

The diamonds were to be placed in a padlocked purse and held in the New Bond Street store’s vault until funds were transferred.

But CCTV footage from the family firm’s basement showroom captured the moment the purse was put into Lakatos’s handbag and switched for a duplicate in seconds using ‘sleight of hand’ on March 10 2016.

She left the shop before switching the gems to the handbag of an unknown woman and the international gang of criminals fled the UK for France in less than three hours.

Lulu Lakatos, 60, was found guilty of conspiracy to steal last year over the audacious  plot

Lulu Lakatos, 60, was found guilty of conspiracy to steal last year over the audacious  plot

Boodles staff said Lakatos had 'She had enormous boobs and you could see her cleavage, it was most unattractive'

Boodles staff said Lakatos had ‘She had enormous boobs and you could see her cleavage, it was most unattractive’

When the purse in Boodles’ safe was opened the following day, inside were seven small garden pebbles, and the real diamonds have never been recovered.

A proceeds of crime hearing on Friday was told Romanian-born Lakatos, from Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, is expected to be extradited back to France.

The court heard the only money available for her to pay was the 293 euros (around £245) found on her when she was arrested.

Judge Alexander Milne QC said: ‘As far as the figures are concerned there is a striking contrast between the benefit figure of £4,299,671 and the available assets of 293 euros and 57 cents.’

Since the money has already been seized, he set a one-day default sentence with a month to pay.

Christophe Stankovic and Mickael Jovanovic were jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal, over the plot. 

Lulu Lakatos is seen bundling a jewel-laden purse into her handbag – as she is challenged by Boodles diamond expert Emma Barton

Diamond expert Emma Barton immediately challenged her, at which point the Romanian pulled off an astonishing sleight of hand, swapping the jewel-laden purse with a precise replica weighed down with pebbles

Lulu Lakatos pulling out the decoy

Diamond expert Emma Barton immediately challenged her, at which point the Romanian pulled off an astonishing sleight of hand, swapping the jewel-laden purse with a precise replica weighed down with pebbles

Some of the gems that Lakatos stole in the audacious theft in central London - including a 3.03 carat ring worth more than £1m

Some of the gems that Lakatos stole in the audacious theft in central London – including a 3.03 carat ring worth more than £1m

Lakatos had sobbed in the dock in July last year after she was found guilty of conspiracy to steal on or before March 10 2016 by a jury at Southwark Crown Court by a majority of 10 to one after nine hours and 19 minutes of deliberations.

Judge Emma Goodall QC sentenced Lakatos to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. 

‘You have been convicted of conspiring to steal diamonds, the jury having rejected your defence it was your deceased sister and not you who perpetrated the offence,’ she said. 

‘This was a highly sophisticated and audacious offence in terms of planning, risk and reward, an offence in respect of which you played an integral role,’ the judge told Lakatos.

‘You spent almost an hour in the Boodles London showroom exploiting their trust, which allowed you to engage in a brazen deception and through sleight of hand you stole seven diamonds valued at £4.2 million.’

Lakatos was wanted in Switzerland for an almost identical plot, where an envelope containing 400,000 euros was switched for a duplicate filled with paper. 

She had arrived in London the day before the theft and was captured on CCTV with Georgeta Danila, 53, entering the Cricklewood Lodge Hotel in north London before making a reconnaissance trip to Boodles with Christophe Stankovic and Mickael Jovanovic.

Danila waited in the Willow Walk Wetherspoon pub in Victoria with a change of clothes for Lakatos, who went to Boodles disguised in a long dark coat, brimmed hat and long scarf.

Nicholas Wainwright escorted her down a glass spiral staircase into the meeting room with Ms Barton, where Lakatos examined and weighed the diamonds.

The Boodles chairman said he was ‘watching her like a hawk’ as she wrapped the diamonds individually in pre-cut tissue paper and placed them inside opaque boxes, which were put into a zippable purse-like bag that was padlocked shut. 

He told the court: ‘Anna was most unattractive, she was overweight, she was dressed most extraordinarily, she was wearing the sort of thing a Russian dancer would wear.

‘She had enormous boobs and you could see her cleavage, it was most unattractive.’ He added, ‘I was watching her like a hawk,’ but said he was distracted by a call from the fake Russian buyer.’ 

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