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Friday 13 December 2019

€1bn gems snatched in German museum robbery

A room in the Green Vault
A room in the Green Vault

Thieves broke into Dresden's Green Vault, one of the world's oldest museums, and made off with three sets of 18th century jewellery valued at €1bn.

German officials said it would be impossible to sell them on the open market.

The treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony was established in 1723 and contains around 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials on display in Dresden's Royal Palace.

Authorities said it appeared the thieves had broken open only one glass case containing three sets of Baroque jewellery with dozens of gems each.

Heritage

"This is a bitter day for the cultural heritage of Saxony," said the state's interior minister Roland Woeller.

He said the thieves had stolen "cultural treasures of immeasurable worth - not only the material worth but the intangible worth to the state of Saxony".

Police are still carrying out forensic examinations of the crime scene, and museum officials said they have not yet been able to determine whether all the 100 or so pieces were missing.

Green Vault director Dirk Syndram said the collections in the museum have "invaluable cultural worth".

Police said they were alerted shortly before 5am by unarmed museum security guards who had spotted two burglars inside the museum on CCTV.

The first officers arrived within minutes, but the thieves had already driven away.

Investigators are looking into whether a fire at an electrical junction box nearby, which took out the streetlights at the time of the robbery, was linked to the crime.

The detective leading the investigation said officers were trying to determine if a car found on fire nearby with all four of its doors open and smelling of petrol was the getaway car.

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