Tobago police believe the theft may have been committed by a member of the house and grounds staff assigned to the villa during Queen Latifah’s stay at the US$1,000 (TT$6,300) a night villa at Stone Haven Villas, Black Rock Tobago. Investigators said there were no signs of forced entry and this led them to believe the heist was an inside job.
Queen Latifah, whose real name is Dana Elaine Owens, arrived in Tobago last week for the Christmas holidays and checked into the villa under the name Cynthia Hadden. She gave her address as California.
Reports are the 35-year-old star, who received an Academy Award nomination for a supporting role in the movie Chicago, is staying at the villa with a female friend.
A barbecue brunch was organised on the secluded-gated compound in her honour by the Stone Haven management from at about 10 am on Monday. Queen Latifah, however, returned to her villa at about 12 noon and discovered that her US$10,000 bracelet, two gold rings, a gold chain and a silver ring had gone missing. She alerted the manager of the villas and three security guards were summoned to conduct a search. They did not find the missing jewelry and the police were contacted.
Investigators from the Old Grange Police Station, led by Sgt Alicia Piggott, went to the villa and took a statement from Queen Latifah, who said the jewelry had a sentimental value to her and expressed her willingness to offer a reward. The upset star hoped to have her jewelry returned before she leaves Tobago today.
Newsday understands Queen Latifah contacted a close friend in Trinidad and expressed her disappointment over the theft and the manner in which the case was being handled by the police.
On one phone call to Stone Haven yesterday, a receptionist said Queen Latifah was resting.
When a second call was made Newsday was told the celebrity was not taking any calls.
On the third try, Newsday was told that Queen Latifah was not a guest at Stone Haven.
Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert yesterday confirmed the theft, which he regretted, and said searches have been conducted. The police also questioned staff assigned to the villa and employees of Stone Haven.
“Several searches are being carried out and the police are trying to have the jewelry returned to Queen Latifah. Investigators said the larceny seems to be an inside job and efforts are being made round the clock to make a breakthrough,” Philbert told Newsday.
At about 4 pm yesterday, a police vehicle drove into the compound of Stone Haven. A guard at the booth at the gate spoke briefly with the police officers before they drove into the compound. The vehicle left about 20 minutes later.
Queen Latifah, who is also a celebrated jazz singer and began her entertainment career as rap artiste, is the latest foreigner to fall victim to rising crime in tourism-based Tobago.
Sources said the management of Stone Haven informed the police that Queen Latifah would be spending Christmas in Tobago and asked that special attention be paid to the area. Stone Haven has three security guards on duty round the clock.