"you were not entitled to use the methods you did"
Harpreet Kaur, aged 29, of Hounslow, west London, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after she donned a full-length niqab and sunglasses as part of a plot to steal a £50,000 laser hair removal machine.
She had led the robbery at a beauty salon, receiving help from two accomplices.
In 2018, Kaur booked an appointment at Pure Skin salon in St George’s Wharf. She arrived wearing a full-length niqab and claimed she was from Dubai.
Once inside, Kaur unlocked the door for accomplice Monica Pashias, aged 42, who burst in posing as a policewoman to remove the Alma Soprano Platinum Ice hair removal machine, worth £50,000.
Tyrone Waugh, aged 41, carried the equipment to a waiting car while Kaur locked the beautician inside before fleeing.
On June 23, 2020, at Inner London Crown Court, Kaur was jailed after being convicted of false imprisonment and possession of an article for use in fraud.
The jury could not reach a verdict on a third charge of robbery.
The two accomplices received suspended sentences after admitting robbery in 2019.
Judge Silas Reid said that Kaur had “instigated” the raid and had “taken the law into one’s own hands” because she believed the laser hair removal machine belonged to her.
He added: “I’m quite sure you and Ms Pashias hatched a plan, at your instigation, to get your hands on that machine by any means necessary.
“You disguised yourself by wearing Islamic dress which covered your face, and I’m quite sure the reason you were dressed that way to go into the salon was to disguise your identity.
“You knew full well you were not entitled to use the methods you did to obtain that machine.
“That’s obvious, people can’t go around falsely imprisoning people – that’s vigilantism, taking the law into one’s own hands.”
Kaur had reported her own hair removal machine stolen to the police in 2018 and became “fixated” on the idea that she had found it at the Pure Skin salon.
She enlisted Pashias’ help to get it back and on August 2, 2018, went into the salon under the pretext of having a “patch test” for a treatment session with beautician Claudia Marques.
Minutes after arriving, Pashia burst in claiming to be a police officer and demanding the return of the machine. As it was taken away, Kaur said:
“You are in big trouble, you need to run, this was stolen from me.”
Police traced Kaur who produced a false document claiming that she owned it. The judge said he believed Kaur had lied during her evidence at trial.
The raid had a “traumatic” impact on Ms Marques, who was unable to return to work and had to rely on food banks to feed her family.
Kaur appealed to be spared a prison sentence in case she caught Coronavirus but Judge Reid rejected it and told her:
“You decided to use any means necessary to get that machine, and you have to bear the consequences of that now.”
Kaur will serve up to half her prison sentence before being freed on licence.