A 27-year-old gang member who reportedly stole £4million worth of gems from a Mayfair jeweller in one of the biggest thefts in British criminal history has been jailed for nearly four years. According to an international media outlet, Mickael Jovanovic was part of a crack team who tricked the staff at Boodles into handing over jewels then used sleight of hand to swap the diamonds for pebbles. Jovanovic and his gang members then fled to their native France within hours of the heist in 2016 and evaded capture until this year.
After an international manhunt, the 27-year-old was reportedly extradited from Italy and arrested in January. The day he was arrested the authorities charged him with conspiracy to steal. As per reports, back in 2016, a Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco by members of the gang posing as Russian businessmen. They even struck a deal to buy seven diamonds, including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2 million.
A spokesperson from Boodles reportedly said that the company received a phone call stating that the buyers’ representative, a gemologist named Anna, would be attending the Mayfair shop under the pretence of appraising the diamonds. Boodles’ gemmologists Emma Barton then met with Anna, who was then taken to the basement of the jewellery store for viewing. The prosecutor Philip Stott reportedly told the court how the incident took place.
Stott explained that Anna entered Boodles to view the diamonds and waited for a diversional telephone call from one of her accomplices. Stott added that Anna then swapped the gems for pebbles and sliced the stones into pre-cut tissue paper, placing them inside opaque boxes she had brought with her. After leaving the shop, Anna then met up with her gang members on the street and handed the diamonds over before the group split up.
Stott added that within three hours of the theft, the gang had all returned to France either by train or car. Following the day, the Boodles’ director then spoke with the fake buyer, who reportedly confirmed the money would be transferred. However, once the staff x-rayed the bag, they discovered they had been left with pebbles.
While calling the 2016 theft ‘the highest possible sophistication, planning, risk and reward’, Stott said that he thought the theft to be the largest value single incident of shoplifting in British criminal history. Soon after the theft the Flying Squad detectives launched an investigation and retraced the group’s movements across London as hey plotted the heist. The images of gang members were circulated after which Jovanovic was extradited from Italy.
As per reports, Jovanovic was jailed for three years and eight months’ imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court. Another member Stankovic, on the other hand, was caught and jailed back in 2016. James Amod, Director of Boodles, reportedly said that the incident was an ‘unfortunate’. He added that the store has ‘moved on’. He also lauded The Flying Squad’, who spent nearly four years to bring the criminals to justice.