This is Britain’s most wanted woman – Sarah Panitzke of York.
She is on the National Crime Agency’s most wanted list for her role in a string of major frauds, involving the money laundering of about £1 billion.
The 47-year-old has evaded the efforts of the National Crime Agency, HMRC, Europol and Crimestoppers. Multiple public appeals for information on her whereabouts have also drawn a blank.
Panitzke, 47, grew up in Escrick and went to York College for Girls, then later St Peter’s.
Sarah’s ex-boyfriend James Brooks told Vice last week: “We’d hang out in central York and go drinking and smoking, and do all the things we shouldn’t have been doing.
“She wasn’t one for going shopping with the girls. She’d rather go and have a pint and a fag with the lads.”
They spent summers at the Panitzke’s second home in Villajoyosa on Spain’s Costa Blanca.
She would later travel around the continent and beyond to carry out her crime.
Jailed in her absence
The National Crime Agency says: “Panitzke was a senior member of a crime group involved in a VAT fraud. She controlled the company accounts of many companies remotely via different IP addresses.
“Panitzke travelled extensively to further the fraud to places including Dubai, Spain and Andorra. She was responsible for laundering approximately £1 billion.”
She was part of an 18-strong gang headed up by Geoffrey Johnson, now 78. Eventually, HMRC spotted something was wrong and investigated.
This led to the trial in 2013 of the gang at Kingston Crown Court. Panitzke and her co-conspirators pleaded not guilty, but they were convicted and given prison sentences totalling 135 years.
Panitzke absconded in May 2013 prior to the end of the trial and was convicted in her absence. She was sentenced to eight years on 22 August 2013.
She was last spotted in Spain, according to the National Crime Agency. But she has proved so good at vanishing without trace that police resorted to asking British holidaymakers to help them find Sarah in 2019. But this too drew a blank.
She is described as 170cm tall, slim build with mousey straight hair, blue eyes and has a Yorkshire accent.
If you have any information on her whereabouts, contact the National Crime Agency on 0370 496 7622.