London ‘master thief’ strikes at Germany’s fanciest store

A 22-year-old woman from London has been arrested in Berlin after stealing designer goods from KaDeWe, Germany’s most famous luxury department store, local media report.

London ‘master thief’ strikes at Germany’s fanciest store
Photo: DPA

The woman was arrested at Schönefeld Airport in the south of the city along with a female accomplice, also 22, last week.

The young women are alleged to have tried to steal luxury items including Louis Vuitton handbags from the department store, and from a perfume shop on the same street, using fake credit cards.

The women managed to steal around €5,000 of goods, prosecutors say.

And details are now emerging about their identities, several Berlin newspapers report.

One is reportedly Aamna A. “who has a questionable reputation in England as a master thief” and who was convicted in the United Kingdom in 2013, the Berliner Morgenpost writes.

An Aamna A. was sentenced to a year in jail in March 2013 for stealing around £140,000 of luxury goods from shops in London, the Daily Mail reported at the time.

Along with two men, she was found guilty of hacking into Lloyds TSB bank accounts and stealing 22 customers’ details, before blowing the money in style on luxury goods.

Now it appears she will be facing lengthy jail time in the Federal Republic.

The two women's robbery spree was put to an end when the credit card was eventually blocked and further payment was refused.

Police were immediately alerted by the credit card company. After studying CCTV footage, officers started a search and the women were arrested as they tried to board a flight to London.

They are currently being detained in a woman's prison in the west of the city.

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Spanish banker gets jail term for trying to smuggle Picasso masterpiece out of Spain on yacht

A Spanish court has sentenced a former top banker to 18 months in jail for trying to smuggle a Picasso painting deemed a national treasure out of the country on a sailing yacht.

Spanish banker gets jail term for trying to smuggle Picasso masterpiece out of Spain on yacht
Head of a Young Woman by Pablo Picasso Photo: AFP

The court also fined ex-Bankinter head Jaime Botín €52.4 million ($58.4 million), according to the Madrid court ruling issued on January 14th which was made public on Thursday.   

It awarded ownership of the work, “Head of a Young Girl”, to the Spanish state.

Botin, 83, is unlikely to go to prison as in Spain first offenders for non-violent crimes are usually spared jail time for sentences of less than two years.   

French customs seized the work, which is estimated to be worth €26 million, in July 2015 on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, halting what they said was an attempt by Botin to export it to Switzerland to sell it.

His lawyers argued at the time that he was sending it for storage in a vault in Geneva but the court found him guilty of “smuggling cultural goods” for removing the painting “from national territory without a permit”.

Botin, whose family are one of the founders of the Santander banking group, had been trying since 2012 to obtain authorisation to export the painting.   

However Spain's culture ministry refused the request because there was “no similar work on Spanish territory” from the same period in Picasso's life.    

In 2015, a top Spanish court sided with the authorities and declared the work of art “unexportable” on the grounds that it was of “cultural interest”.    

Picasso painted it during his pre-Cubist phase in Gosol, Catalonia, in 1906. It was bought by Botin in London in 1977.

Botin's lawyers had argued that the work should not be subjected to an export ban since it was acquired in Britain and was on board a British-flagged vessel when it was seized.

When customs officials boarded the yacht, its captain only presented two documents — one of which was the court ruling ordering that the painting be kept in Spain.

The painting is currently stored at the Reina Sofia modern art museum in Madrid, which houses Picasso's large anti-war masterpiece “Guernica”.

READ MORE: Banking family's Picasso seized on Corsica boat