The German Police have raided apartments across Berlin and arrested three people on Tuesday, November 17 suspected of involvement in a jewel heist at Green Vault museum housing one of Europe’s greatest collections of treasures, officers said.
The thieves forced their way into Green Vault museum or Dresden’s Gruenes Gewoelbe, in November last year and got away with at least three sets of early 18th-century jewellery. According to reports, the stolen jewels were worth up to 1 billion euros ($1.19 BN).
Police were searching 18 apartments, garages, and vehicles for the jewellery and other evidence including digital data, clothes, and tools, mostly in the city’s southern district of Neukoelln, police said on Tuesday while adding that a total of 1,638 officers had taken part in the operation, which could cause serious traffic disruptions through the day.
Three Germans were arrested on suspicion of theft and arson, and will appear before an investigating judge later in the morning, the police said. The force said the arrests took place in different parts of the country, without going into detail. Security camera footage showed two men breaking into the museum through a grilled window in the early hours of November 25. Officers were on the scene five minutes after the alarm sounded, but the thieves escaped. All three were accused of serious gang robbery and two counts of arson, Dresden prosecutors said.
The robbers stole priceless 18th-century jewellery from the collection of Saxon ruler, Augustus the Strong. Items stolen included a sword whose grip is encrusted with nine large and 770 smaller diamonds and a shoulder piece which contains the famous 49-carat Dresden white diamond, Dresden’s Royal Palace had said after the robbery.
The collection was brought together in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and later king of Poland, who commissioned ever more brilliant jewellery as part of his rivalry with France’s King Louis XIV. The treasures of the Green Vault survived Allied bombing raids in World War II. They were returned to Dresden, the historic capital of the state of Saxony, in 1958. Meanwhile, Germany has been hit by several high-profile heists, with banks and museums frequent targets.