International jewel thief linked to biggest burglary in English legal history

An elusive international jewel thief known as “Lupin” has been revealed as the alleged mastermind behind the biggest burglary in English legal history.

Scotland Yard has launched a Europe-wide manhunt for “unseizable” Alfredo Lindley, a 40-year-old Peruvian national said to have led raids on the homes of three celebrities including the Formula One heiress Tamara Ecclestone.

Detectives believe Lindley – who is said to use at least 19 aliases – robbed around £26m in jewels, watches and other valuables during the heists in December 2019. 

Other targets included the former footballer Frank Lampard and the late Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, while Italian authorities have separately accused Lindley of burgling the current Crystal Palace manager Patrick Viera in 2009.

Believed to be living in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, Lindley has been convicted at least nine times in Italy for scams and burglaries dating back to 1995, according to court documents.

Italian detectives have dubbed him “Lupin” after the fictional master thief Arsène Lupin, a character created by the French novelist Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900s and the inspiration behind a current Netflix series, below.

On August 27, Lindley appeared under the name Ljubomir Romanov before a court in Belgrade facing extradition to the UK. However, the Serbian authorities refused the request, according to the BBC.

Three of Lindley’s alleged accomplices have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary after being extradited to the UK, and will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court later this month.

'Lupin' is believed to have targeted Tamara Ecclestone, pictured with daughter Sophia …

… Frank Lampard and his wife Christine ….

Credit: WireImage

… and Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the late Leicester City owner

Credit: Leicester City FC

Ms Ecclestone, 37, the daughter of Bernie Ecclestone, the former Formula 1 supremo, was on holiday in Lapland with her husband, art gallery owner Jay Rutland, and their daughter, when a gang equipped with screwdrivers stole £25 million worth of cash and jewellery, including a Cartier bangle. 

The Crown Prosecution Service later described the heist as the “highest value burglary in English legal history”.

The gang also took some £50,000 worth of items, including white-gold Patek Philippe cufflinks and a Cartier pocket watch from the west London home of Frank Lampard, the former footballer, and his wife Christine, as well as stealing almost £1 million worth of goods including seven Patek Philippe watches from the property of late Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, which had been left untouched by his family after he died in a helicopter crash in 2018. 

The next day the gang dined at a sushi restaurant near Harrods where they had a £760 champagne and sashimi lunch.

Lindley is believed to have left the UK on December 18 on an AirSerbia flight from Heathrow to Belgrade, after staying briefly at an Airbnb in Chelsea, and has not returned since.

Police have not recovered the £26 million worth of cash and jewellery stolen in the three raids, which is believed to have been taken abroad.

Notorious in Italy

Lindley is already notorious in Italy, where the Corriere della Sera newspaper has described him as the “unseizable modern Lupin,” noting that he has been “a fugitive and a ghost” for the past two years. 

In 2018, Il Messaggero, another national daily, called him “the king of burglaries in VIPs homes”. 

Lindley was born in Peru but his family hails from former Yugoslavia, and according to Italian reports is linked to a Roma gypsy camp in Baranzate, in the northwestern outskirts of Milan. 

The Italian press has alleged that Serbian police have done little to catch him, despite receiving “precise” tips from their Italian counterparts “which could have allowed investigators to track down Lindley’s lair”.

He initially specialised in home break-ins and later moved on to scams involving fake banknotes, reports say.  

Footballers targeted

Milan police have accused him of breaking into the Milan homes of Patrick Vieira and Sulley Muntari in 2009, when they were playing for Inter and lived in the same street. 

According to the La Repubblica newspaper, he stole €15,000 in cash from the pair of footballers, as well as watches, jewels and other items worth hundreds of thousands of euros. 

He was also arrested in 2010 for breaking into the Milan home of Maria Luisa Gavazzeni, widow of Italian fashion designer and entrepreneur Nicola Trussardi, on New Year’s eve of 2009, allegedly stealing jewels worth €2 million.

He entered into a plea bargain of two years and four months for the crime, but was not sent to prison. 

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed Lindley is “wanted for questioning in respect of a series of high-value burglaries committed in December 2019 in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea”, adding that he is “believed to be in Belgrade, Serbia, where his extradition is sought”.

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