Conwoman jailed for swapping diamonds with pebbles at London jewellers

ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry reports on the jewellery heist

A conwoman who swapped diamonds with pebbles at a London jeweller’s in a heist worth £4.2m has been jailed for more than five years.

Lulu Lakatos, 60, posed as a gemologist when she visited Boodles in Mayfair. She looked at precious stones and put them into a padlocked pouch.

But she managed to swap the pouch for an identical one which only contained pebbles.

Unaware, the jewellers kept the pouch at the store for safekeeping and Lakatos was able to leave with the diamonds.

Lakatos was sent to the family-run jewellery to value the stones on behalf of supposed wealthy Russian buyers who had been in contact with Boodles in the weeks leading up to the theft.

The theft went unnoticed until the next day when concerns were raised that the money agreed upon had not been transferred.

The bag containing the stones was sent for an x-ray and when opened the pebbles were found.

CCTV captures conwoman Lulu Lakatos swapping the bag of diamonds worth £4.2million for a bag of pebbles

"Lulu Lakatos’ actions were criminal. She played an integral part in an audacious swoop that could be likened to a scene from a Hollywood film," said Thomas Short, from the Crown Prosecution Service.

"Having committed the ultimate sleight of hand, Lakatos simply walked out of a Mayfair luxury jewellers with more than £4m worth of diamonds in her handbag.

“The prosecution case included strong witness testimony and CCTV footage which showed Lakatos arriving outside Boodles the evening before, while the shop was closed, to scope out the area.

"We were also able to show her movements after the heist which included efforts to change her appearance and leave the country via Eurostar in less than three hours after stepping foot into Boodles," he added.

The diamonds which were swapped for pebbles Credit: CPS

Lulu Lakatos was found guilty of conspiracy to steal at Southwark Crown Court by a jury majority of 10 to one after nine hours and 19 minutes of deliberations.

Judge Emma Goodall QC said. "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.

"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."