Diamonds swapped for pebbles in gem heist

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  William Russell
Lord Mayor of the City of London at Boodles at The Royal Exchange on April 12, 2021 in London, England. England has taken a significant step in easing its lockdown restrictions, with non-essential retail, beauty services, gyms and outdoor entertainment venues among the businesses given the green light to re-open with coronavirus precautions in place. Pubs and restaurants are also allowed open their outdoor areas, with no requirements for patrons to order food when buying alcoholic drinks. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 12: William Russell Lord Mayor of the City of London at Boodles at The Royal Exchange on April 12, 2021 in London, England. England has taken a important stage in easing its lockdown limitations, with non-crucial retail, magnificence solutions, fitness centers and outdoor leisure venues among the firms offered the eco-friendly light to re-open up with coronavirus safety measures in location. Pubs and places to eat are also permitted open up their outdoor parts, with no demands for patrons to order foods when obtaining alcoholic beverages. (Picture by Kate Green/Getty Visuals)

A British courtroom has heard how a female allegedly pretended to be a gem skilled and swapped diamonds worthy of 4.2 million pounds ($5.7 million) for pebbles employing “sleight of hand” at a luxury London jewelers. 

Prosecutors mentioned Tuesday that Lulu Lakatos, 60, posed as a gem specialist and went to jewelry shop Boodles in London’s tony Mayfair space in March 2016, allegedly to value 7 diamonds on behalf of a team of rich Russian buyers. 

The diamonds, which integrated a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond valued at much more than 2.2 million pounds,- had been to be placed in a locked bag and held in the jeweler’s vault until finally payment was transferred. But when Boodles’ personal diamond skilled became suspicious and opened the bag the next day, she identified 7 smaller pebbles. 

Prosecutor Philip Stott mentioned the diamonds had been “stolen by the defendant by sleight of hand.”

“The conspiracy in which she is alleged to have performed an integral and central component was one of the highest probable sophistication, setting up, danger and reward,” he instructed Southwark Crown Court docket in London. 

Lakatos, who was born in Romania but lived in France, denies any wrongdoing. She is charged with conspiracy to steal.

Nicholas Wainwright, chairman of Boodles, just one of Britain’s prime luxury jewelry brands, reported in a assertion that he experienced been approached by an Israeli purchaser who wanted to make investments in superior-price diamonds in the months right before the theft. He agreed to the sale of the seven diamonds subsequent a conference in a Monaco lodge. 

Wainwright met with Lakatos in his shop’s basement, alongside with his personal diamond pro Emma Barton. As shortly as Wainwright remaining the home to acquire a get in touch with from the alleged consumer, Lakatos set the padlocked purse containing the gems in her own purse, Barton explained to the jury. 

Barton said she protested, but Stott alleged that Lakatos swapped the purse with an similar locked bag and placed that back on the table in a subject of seconds. 

Prosecutors said Lakatos then worked with accomplices to make their getaway to France in a rented automobile.

Two men have by now pleaded responsible to conspiracy to steal around the heist.

Barton claimed she discovered “seven back garden pebbles” when she opened the purse the future night. 

Lakatos was arrested in France on a European arrest warrant very last September and extradited to the U.K. 

The trial is expected to previous several additional days.