A former Tiffany & Co. executive got just a little too close to the legendary store's jewelry cases, lifting about $1.3 million worth of loot, police say.
Authorities said Tuesday that Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, stole jewelry from the Tiffany & Co. flagship store in New York, masking the missing pieces in the company's ledgers by employing a system that allowed merchandise to be canceled out of the inventory in certain situations, reported The New York Times.
Lederhaas-Okun began stealing jewelry from the store soon after being promoted to vice president in January 2011, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. She "went from a vice-president at a high-end jewelry company to a jewel thief," he said.
The executive was arrested on Tuesday morning at her five-bedroom home in posh Darien, Conn., reports the New York Daily News. She was charged with wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.
According to the feds, between January 2011 and February 2013, Lederhaas-Okun signed out more than 165 pieces of jewelry from the luxury store. These included several "diamond bracelets, platinum or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings, and platinum and diamond pendants."
Authorities said she would then take most, "if not all of this jewelry" she signed out and sell it to another company. Before the theft was uncovered, Lederhaas-Okun and her husband were paid around $1.2 million by a top Manhattan jewelry buyer and reseller.
Since Tiffany's does a daily inventory on pieces priced at more than $25,000, Lederhaas-Okun only checked out pieces valued at $10,000 or under. This allowed her to continue her jewelry thievery for almost two years, authorities said.
According to court papers, Tiffany discovered that the pieces of jewelry were missing on Valentines Day of this year. This came just one day after Lederhaas-Okun lost her job as VP of product development due to companywide downsizing. An inventory review found that she he had checked out the close to 165 pieces of jewelry since November 2012.
When asked by Tiffany where the checked-out jewelry had been placed, court papers say she provided "inconsistent accounts."
Emails between her and the jewelry reseller were also found on her computer and authorities say the items matched several of those missing from the inventory.
Lederhaas-Okun was released on bond and her lawyer hasn't commented on the charges. She began her career at Tiffany & Co. in 1991, starting out as an assistant buyer.