60-Year-Old Female Gangster Convicted Of Swapping Almost $6 Million Worth Of Gems For Pebbles In Wild Heist

(Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A court in Great Britain has sentenced a 60-year-old woman associated with an international gang for lifting nearly $6 million worth of gems in a jewelry heist in London.

Lulu Lakatos was sentenced to five and a half years in prison by the Southwark Crown Court in London after she was convicted in a conspiracy to steal, according to The Associated Press. Lakatos was a member of an international gang that executed a heist at the luxury jewelry store Boodles, located in London’s Tony Mayfair district in 2016, The AP reported.

Lakatos, who was originally born in Romania before moving to France, gained access to the diamonds by posing as a gem expert named “Anna” to evaluate the diamonds on behalf of a wealthy Russian investor, according to The AP.

The seven diamonds she evaluated included a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond worth more than $3 million, The AP claimed. After inspecting the diamonds, they were individually wrapped and placed in a locked bag to be held in a vault until the Russian investor sent Boodles payment. But, Lakatos was able to use a distraction to swap the bag with an identical one with pebbles inside, and make off with the diamonds, security footage shows, according to The AP.

Once outside of Boodles, Lakatos handed the bag off to a female accomplice before taking off her disguise, which included a long coat, hat, and scarf, The AP noted. Later, Boodles’ own expert became suspicious of the meeting with “Anna,” and had the bag x-rayed, which revealed that the diamonds had been replaced by seven regular pebbles, according to The AP report. (RELATED: 1,098 Carat Diamond Found In Botswana, Third Largest In The World)

The gang was able to take $5.7 million worth of diamonds from the jewelry store after they replaced the diamonds with pebbles on March 10, 2016, The AP claimed. After stealing the gems, she fled to France on a high-speed Eurostar train. She was later arrested on a European arrest warrant in September of 2020.

“This was an audacious theft, carried out in plain view of experienced and professional staff at a renowned jewelers,” William Man, a detective sgt. with the London Metropolitan Police Service claimed in a statement, according to The AP. “The meticulous planning and execution of this theft reveals to me that those involved were highly skilled criminals.”

Authorities have not been able to recover the stolen diamonds, but the incident remains under investigation, specifically regarding two alleged female accomplices of Lakatos, The AP reported. Two men previously pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to steal and were sentenced to nearly four years in prison after working with Lakatos.