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Woman who stole diamonds worth £4.2m ordered to pay back less than £250

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

18 February 2022

A woman 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.

Lulu Lakatos court case
Lulu Lakatos stole diamonds worth £4.2 million by swapping them for pebbles in the biggest theft of its kind (Metropolitan Police/PA)

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.

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.

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