Tiffany Exec Takes Trove
New York - An executive at Tiffany & Co. allegedly stole $1.3 million worth of jewelry from the company. How did she steal so much from such a monitored environment? Very slowly, it seems.
Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network are always amazed at the audacity of thieves.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, worked as the vice president of product development at the jeweler’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters from January 2011 to February 2013, when her position was terminated due to downsizing.
The F.B.I. claims that between November 2012 and her dismissal this year, 165 pieces of jewelry went poof, including “diamond bracelets, platinum, or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings, and platinum and diamond pendants.”
Lederhaas-Okun, authorities say, would check out the jewelry for professional reasons—marketing purposes, showing potential buyers, and so forth—and then not return them.
She was careful to only keep items that were valued at under $10,000. Tiffany’s has a policy of only investigating missing inventory that’s valued over $25,000. She developed a slow and steady conduit of theft.
Lederhaas-Okun has since been charged by the F.B.I. with wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property. She faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Tiffany officials will not comment during this criminal investigation.
What did she do with her millions in stolen Tiffany’s jewelry?
The details are still coming together, but according to the Feds, she sold the merchandize to an unnamed “leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry with an office in midtown Manhattan. Of course, she just as easily could have walked into one of New York's numerous pawn shops.
How did Lederhaas-Okun finally get caught?
Tiffany’s discovered that the jewelry was missing when it conducted a company-wide inventory review, and e-mails between Lederhaas-Okun and the unnamed jewelry reseller were found on her computer.
At first, Lederhaas-Okun claimed all jewelry had been checked out for a PowerPoint presentation for her supervisor. (The supervisor denied this.) Lederhaas-Okun later said that the missing jewels could be found, according to the Feds, “in a white envelope in her office.” Searches turned up nothing.
Chris E. McGoey, a Los Angeles-based security advisor, believes that other employees at Tiffany’s may have had suspicions long before the investigation, but were afraid to speak up. “I guarantee you that a company like Tiffany’s has checks and balances,” he says. “But it didn’t apply to [Lederhaas-Okun.] People reported to her, and they had to relinquish their inventory to her, based on her say-so.” Even if they had concerns about why the jewelry she was checking out wasn’t being returned, he says, they might’ve been reluctant to raise any red flags. “Nobody wants to rat out their boss,” he says.