BBC NEWS – EUROPE | July 12, 2017
Police have raided homes and made arrests in Berlin over an audacious night-time heist which saw a huge solid-gold coin stolen from a museum.
The raids took place and a car was seized in the district of Neukoelln, German news agency DPA reports.
The suspected robbers are believed to have used a ladder to get into the Bode museum and a wheelbarrow to carry the 53cm (21in) coin away in March.
Last week, police released CCTV footage of suspects at a local train station.
The Canadian “Big Maple Leaf” is made of 100kg (220lb) of pure 24-carat gold – which means it is worth about $4.2m (£3.3m), despite a lower nominal face value.
It has not been found and investigators say they believe it may have been melted down and sold.
They are said to be at a loss as to how the thieves broke bullet-proof glass inside the building and evaded burglar alarms.
As well as making the arrests on Wednesday morning, police seized a car where a balaclava and knife were found.
Sources inside the investigation say the suspects come from a “large Arab family” with alleged links to organised crime.
The Big Maple Leaf coin
- Minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, and certified at the time by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest gold coin
- Five coins were made
- 3cm (1.18in) thick, 53cm in diameter, and with likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on one side, as Canada’s head of state
- The other side shows the Canadian national symbol, the maple leaf
- Canadian Mint says: “Why did the Royal Canadian Mint make the world’s purest and largest gold bullion coin? Because we can”
- Was held in a coin cabinet at the Bode Museum as one of more than 540,000 objects, but German media report only the “Big Maple Leaf” was stolen