A French national has been jailed for his involvement in a 2016 jewellery theft in which an estimated £4 million worth of diamonds was stolen.
Mickael Jovanovic, 27 of Le Blanc-Mesnil was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 29 May to three years and eight months’ imprisonment.
He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal on Thursday, 27 February.
Jovanovic was part of an international organised group that pretended to be diamond buyers in the spring of 2016.
Over a number of weeks, the group had ingratiated themselves with the victims, even attending a meeting in Monaco on 2 March 2016. They subsequently arranged to view a number of diamonds with the intent of purchasing them. The seller was later informed that someone would be sent to appraise them.
A few days later, Jovanovic, along with another man and several women, travelled to the UK from France before booking into a hotel in Ilford.
On 10 March 2016, they checked out of the hotel and made their way into central London in separate groups.
The seller received a phone call stating that a gemmologist named ‘Anna’ – who was actually part of the group – would be attending the Mayfair shop under the pretence of appraising the diamonds.
During this process, she carried out a sophisticated distraction theft and replaced the diamonds – that were valued at more than £4 million – before leaving.
The padlocked bag containing the ‘diamonds’ was returned to the safe.
After leaving the shop, ‘Anna’ met up with her co-conspirators on the street and handed the diamonds over before the group split up once more.
Within three hours of the theft, they had all returned to France either by train or car.
The following day, the victim spoke with the fake buyer, who confirmed the money would be transferred. Growing suspicious, the bag was opened to reveal the crime.
The police were contacted and detectives from the Met’s Flying Squad launched an investigation.
As a result of extensive CCTV enquiries, they were able to track the group across London as they carried out their planning ahead of the scam. It was established that they had used mini-cabs in an attempt to hide their movements but their departure from the country was quickly established.
The group’s images were circulated to other police forces and the investigating team never gave up hope that they would be caught.
On Thursday, 30 January, Jovanovic was extradited from Italy and arrested. He was charged the same day.
Detective Constable William Man, of the Flying Squad, said: “This was a well organised theft which evolved over a number of weeks both in London and on the continent
“Like the plot of a film, this was a truly audacious crime. They stole the diamonds and fled in a matter of hours. However, they left behind a trail of evidence which led us to where they were staying, and the Citroen they had hired in Paris.
“As a result of piecing together all of the bits of information, we knew it was only a matter of time before arrests were made. And whilst it has taken four years, this case does highlight that we won’t give up. We still remain determined to identify all of those involved.”