How a Dick Pic Helped Detectives Crack the  Million Tamara Ecclestone Diamond Heist

How a Dick Pic Helped Detectives Crack the $30 Million Tamara Ecclestone Diamond Heist

LONDON—Scotland Yard caught the gang behind the biggest home invasion robbery in English legal history after one of the thieves couldn’t resist sending a dick picture to a member of staff at a budget hotel.

The saga began with a luxurious lifestyle Instagram post. Just before Christmas in 2019, Tamara Ecclestone – the model heiress daughter of diminutive former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone – announced that she and her family were traveling to Lapland for the holidays with a photo of her daughter Sophia in front of a private jet.

On the night they left, a gang of thieves broke into the family’s home, which is located on a street known as “billionaire’s row”. The group was able to withdraw around $30 million in cash, watches and diamonds from the property. That was despite a security guard actually catching three unmasked men red-handed at around 11pm inside Ecclestone’s dressing room – known as “the vault” – after its six-inch steel door had been left unlocked. The thieves pushed past the guard and escaped the palatial mansion through a window.

Cops from the Met’s Flying Squad – the crack team investigating London’s robberies – didn’t have much to go on at first. Security camera footage from the property’s garden showed the trio making it past a $12,000 replica of the main house used by Sophia as a playhouse. CCTV footage then showed the group entering one of London’s famous black cabs. Investigators began contacting the 1,006 taxi drivers who had worked in the area on the night of the robbery, asking if they remembered picking up a group matching the burglars’ description.

A driver said he had, and provided information that led the investigation to a budget hotel called TLK Apartments. Detective Constable Thomas Grimshaw visited the hotel in January 2020 and asked the receptionist if she remembered a group of young men staying there in mid-December.

The chances of remembering specific guests were low, but she told the detective that there was a group of potential suspects she remembered very clearly.

One of the group had sent his colleague a series of lewd messages on the hotel’s iPhone outside opening hours – one of which was a picture of a dick. The staff at the hotel even saved the man’s number as “Weirdo”.

“Knowing this, I felt we had identified the right group of people,” Grimshaw told the BBC.

The hotel had taken a copy of his photo ID when he checked in, giving police their first suspect in the case: a 23-year-old Italian named Jugoslav Jovanovic. Once they had his identity, police were able to piece together Jovanovic’s movements after entering the UK, even finding that his appearance matched that of a man caught on security cameras during the robberies carried out at the homes of other high-profile celebrities, including a man. A $70,000 break-in at a property belonging to Premier League manager Frank Lampard and a $410,000 job at the townhouse of the late Leicester City soccer team owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The investigation eventually led to Jovanovic being arrested in Italy in October 2020 before being extradited to the UK in April last year. He and his associates Alessandro Maltese and Alessandro Donati – who were also arrested in Italy and extradited to Britain – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and were jailed in November 2021. The alleged mastermind behind all the burglaries – known by over a dozen aliases – is still living as a free man after Serbian authorities refused extradition requests.

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