Divers in Berlin search for part of the astonishing diamond heist from a German museum | abroad

Today there are about two dozen police divers in a canal in Berlin looking for some jewels that were seized in 2019 during a robbery at a museum in Dresden. Police said in a statement that the immediate area has been cordoned off and the operation will take some time.

A week ago, German authorities announced that they had seized a large portion of the original loot in Berlin. It concerns 31 recovered objects. The stolen jewelry contained more than 4,300 diamonds and other precious stones, with a combined value of more than €113 million. The stolen items were “unique and irreplaceable treasures of exceptional cultural and historical significance”.

Just several minutes

On November 25, 2019, thieves broke into the museum’s treasure room at the Residenzschloss castle in the Saxon capital early in the morning, collecting their staggering spoils in just eight minutes. They smashed showcases with jewels and diamonds with an axe. They had disabled the burglar alarm by arson and had posted and replaced the grille in front of the museum window a few days earlier.

Thieves stole the crown jewels of Augustus II the Strong, also known as the “Sun King of Saxony”. It’s all about 18th-century jewels, from diamond-encrusted brooches and epaulettes to a Saxon and sable pearl necklace set with 770 diamonds. Together they took 21 pieces. They set their empty car on fire and left them in a parking garage.

Fear that the treasure will not be found

Prosecutors had offered €500,000 in tipping, which would lead to the treasure hoard. Experts had previously feared that the treasure might not be found again because they considered the stolen gems likely to be processed for resale.

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Since the beginning of this year, a trial has been taking place in Dresden against six suspects for theft and arson. The defendants, who were arrested in Berlin in November 2020 after months of video footage and DNA analysis, belong to a criminal gang of Lebanese origin, the Rammo clan, which is very active in Germany.

Police officers leaving the Residenzschloss castle. © AFP

One of the pieces stolen from the royal palace that houses the historic Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault).

One of the pieces stolen from the royal palace that houses the historic Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault). © AFP

The Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) houses one of the oldest and best-preserved treasure collections in Europe.  The treasure was created between 1723 and 1730 by 2 August the Strong, Elector of Saxony.  Try to surpass King Louis XIV with his impressive collection of jewels.

The Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) houses one of the oldest and best-preserved treasure collections in Europe. The treasure was created between 1723 and 1730 by 2 August the Strong, Elector of Saxony. Try to surpass King Louis XIV with his impressive collection of jewels. © AFP

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