BERLIN, Nov. 15 — A formal indictment by state prosecutors has provided the first details of one of the biggest gold heists in German history, the newspaper BILD reported on Thursday.
BILD cited a 68-page-long document listing charges against four individuals who are believed to have stolen the “Big Maple Leaf” gold coin from the Bode-Museum in Berlin in March 2017.
The coin weighs 100 kilograms and is valued at 3.75 million euros, a circumstance which has previously fueled wild media speculation as to how the suspected robbers managed remove it successfully from the exhibition space.
According to the indictment, the heist was a collusion between three members of the notorious Remmo organized crime family in Berlin and Denis W., a security officer working at the museum who acted as their accomplice. Prosecutors believe that the burglars obtained crucial information about the layout of the museum in this fashion, as well as weaknesses in its security infrastructure.
On March 27, 2017, the three Remmo family members placed a ladder against a window of the museum at 3:20 am which had been tampered with beforehand by the accomplice to enable them to break it open easily. From there, the burglars climbed into a changing room located just a few meters away from the cabinet displaying the “Big Maple Leaf”. The entry was timed to coincide with a round of the duty security officer in the museum at the time, meaning that the automatic alarm system was on standby.
Having arrived at the display of the massive gold coin with a 53-cm diameter, the three men shattered the glass and lifted the “Big Maple Leaf” back into the changing room where it was hurled out of the museum window onto the tracks of a nearby railway line. They then exited the building and crossed the Spree river flowing outside the Bode-Museum on a railway bridge before escaping with their valuable bounty in a getaway vehicle.
Initially, investigators had few clues as to the identity of the robbers aside from video footage of three hooded individuals from a surveillance camera. However, three undercover policemen independently responded to a call for related information that the heist could be linked to the Remmo clan, a finding which was later confirmed by a DNA analysis of the ladder, ropes, adhesives and parts of an axe left at the scene of the crime.
After the tip-off, police began to surveil the three Remmo men and their accomplice on a running basis. They soon discovered that Denis W. had undergone a remarkable transformation in his standard of living, attempting to purchase a luxury vehicle and spending 11,000 euros for a gold chain in cash amongst others.
The four suspects were arrested by specialized police forces on July 12 last year who discovered gold traces with a purity of 99.999 percent, the same level as that of the “Big Maple Leaf” on their clothing and a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. The coin itself has never been found and is believed to have been broken up into little pieces and sold on.
The four suspects, all of which are registered as unemployed, are currently not in police custody after being released again on bail. There is still no official date for the start of a court trial of the alleged thieves who face up to ten years in prison for their involvement in the heist. – XINHUA