Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nothing like a little something in that little blue box from Tiffany’s

Jewelry thievery is the stuff of which romantic romps and/or heist movies are made.

Any thug can rob a bank. Any terrorist can go after nuclear weapons. But the jewelry thief is the debonair fellow in the perfectly cut tuxedo. Cary Grant (Grade A), Robert Wagner (Grade B).

Easy in, easy out. Nobody gets hurt.

Sometimes, of course, the heists are inside jobs. And sometimes, of course, they actually involve women. And sometimes, of course, they’re not all that dramatic.

One that probably won’t be lending itself to the large screen or the chase scene – but could end up a weeper on Lifetime; or maybe on the Bad [Older] Girls Club on Oxygen – is the still unwinding story if Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, who:

… worked as the vice president of product development at the jeweler’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters from January 2011 to February of this year, when her position was terminated due to downsizing. The FBI claims that between Novembertiffany 2012 and her dismissal, 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. (Source: Business Week.)

Lederhaas-Okun allegedly liked what she saw enough to put a ring on it to the tune of $1.3M – an awful lot of bling to scoop up in a relatively short period, but a very nice little severance package. If she’d been able to make a clean getaway.

One of the reasons she got away with it at all is that Tiffany’s doesn’t put much focus on missing inventory worth less than $25K, and Lederhaas-Okun kept the items she cadged below this point. (Bet that policy changes.)

Supposedly, Lederhaas-Okun didn’t keep the wares for herself – it might have been a tad difficult to show up for work wearing a $10K necklace that you’d boosted. It’s speculated that she got rid of them through a high-end fence as part of a “consignment theft” scheme in which the ultimate purchaser has agreed to take hot merchandise off your hands before you put it in your hands.

The theft was discovered after:

…a company-wide inventory review, and e-mails between Lederhaas-Okun and the unnamed jewelry reseller were found on her computer

Found on her computer? Duh, duh, double-duh, duh.

And speaking of 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.

Last time I checked, Power Point didn’t include actual physical goods, but the technology’s changing so rapidly these days, what with 3-D printers, that anything’s possible.

Anyway, when I looked, Lederhaas-Okun’s profile was still on LinkedIn, where she bragged about being Tiffany’s primary contact for Paloma Picasso and, in excellent résumé form, her results:  “revitalizing [the] Designer category” and 60% growth in her $150M business line over five years. She also noted her work on “improved traceability to Country of Origin” compliance efforts, meeting “the requirements of Dodd Frank legislation.”

She also:

Collaborated with Internal Audit and Security developing new SOP for all operational aspects of product movement.

She may have been doing too good a job here…

Anyway, if the allegations turn out to be true, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun may be trading in her charmed life as a retail executive (and Darien hedge-fund wife) for bracelets of a different sort. She could be heading up Moon River for 20-30 years.

Diamonds aren’t always a girl’s best friend.


Personally, I have seen little in the way of the little blue box. I did get this monogrammed sterling book mark from a very dear friend for Christmasbookmark so long ago that it’s in the shape of the women’s symbol. (The sisterhood is powerful!) And when I was awarded a trip to the Genuity iLeaders Winners’ Circle in 2001, I was delighted to see a mound of reasonably sized Tiffany’s boxes on the table on the night of the award’s banquet. Yes, I knew that whatever it was would have the company logo and something dopey on it, but I was hoping for something useful that I could just turn around to hide the logo and dopey whatever.  Maybe a Revere bowl. But, no, it had to be a good-awful glass paperweight etched with my name, the Genuity logo, and something dopey. The only use I could think of it was murder weapon. When I left Genu, I left it on my desk. I shouldv’e kept the blue box…

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