Diamonds aren’t forever.
At least not for a brazen Romanian jewel thief who stealthily switched seven pebbles for $5.7 million worth of diamonds in a daring heist — only to be sent to prison last week for 5 1/2 years for the crime.
Lulu Lakatos was found guilty of conspiracy to steal by a London jury last Wednesday for her pivotal role in the theft of the expensive gems at Boodles jewelry store in London’s Mayfair district in March 2016, the AP reported.
Lakatos belonged to an international gang that escaped to France after stealing the diamonds, which have still not been recovered.
Gang members visited Boodles several times in the days leading up to the heist, telling staffers they represented a wealthy Russian investor in Monaco.
“This was an audacious theft, carried out in plain view of experienced and professional staff at a renowned jewelers,” Detective Sgt. William Man, of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, said in a statement. “The meticulous planning and execution of this theft reveals to me that those involved were highly skilled criminals.”
Lakatos posed as a gem expert named “Anna” who then went to Boodles to value seven diamonds for the buyer. When she arrived at Boodles she was met by the boss, William Wainwright.
After inspecting the gems, which included a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond valued at more than 2.2 million pounds, they were individually wrapped and put in a locked bag that was supposed to be held in the jeweler’s vault until payment was received.
But Boodles’ own expert became suspicious the next day and staffers X-rayed the bag. There was nothing in it but seven ordinary pebbles.
Lakatos had used distractions, including removing layers of heavy clothing, to swap the bag containing the diamonds for an identical one containing the pebbles before it was locked in the vault, according to store surveillance video.
“She was most unattractive,” Wainwright testified in court. “She was overweight, she was wearing the sort of thing a Russian dancer would wear. She had enormous boobs.”
After she left Boodles, Lakatos gave the bag containing the diamonds to a female accomplice. She then ditched the long coat, hat and scarf she wore and boarded a high-speed Eurostar train to France.
She was arrested on a European arrest warrant last September and returned to Britain to stand trial.