First Sentence for Attempted Theft of the Trier Gold Treasure

With more than 2,600 aurei, the Trier Gold Hoard is the world’s largest treasure of Roman gold coins. Photo: KW.
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For his attempt to steal the Trier Gold Hoard, an accused has now been sentenced to three years in prison. The crime caused a sensation in 2019. In October 2019, several perpetrators tried to steal the large treasure of Roman gold coins from the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier. They failed due to the secure display case and were able to escape without any loot. (CoinsWeekly covered the failed attempt at theft in detail.)

DNA traces on this sports bag convicted a 28-year-old Dutchman. Photo: Police of Rhineland-Palatinate.

DNA Traces Convicted a Suspect

Among other things, the perpetrators left behind a sports bag at the museum. According to media reports, the police were able to recover DNA traces from it that led to a Dutchman with a criminal record. The man was arrested in the Netherlands in 2020 and extradited to Germany.

At first, he denied everything. Then, however, he confessed that he had been on guard in front of the museum and that he had warned his two accomplices. While the defence argued during the trial that the 28-year-old had only played a minor role in the crime, the court ruled that his complicity was a major contribution to the attempted theft. Therefore, on 24 August 2021, the first criminal court division of the Trier Regional Court sentenced the accused to three years of prison for attempted theft. According to the court, this was a “particularly serious case”. Due to a prior agreement between the court, the public prosecutor’s office and the defence, it was possible to end the trial much faster. However, the identities of the two accomplices still seem to be unknown.

Coin Hoard Saved from Being Melted Down?

According to the media, the trial did not answer the question as to what the perpetrators intended to do with the coins. Although the scholarly value of the hoard is in the millions, the thieves probably wanted to melt down the loot after stealing the coins. The material value of the coins weighing about 18.5 kilograms would have amounted to around 800,000 euros.

Increasing Security Is Always Possible

Immediately after the attempted theft, the Landesmuseum Trier moved the gold hoard to a secret location and increased security measures. Although the security measures had actually prevented the perpetrators from stealing the coins – unlike those in the Berlin Bode Museum and Dresden – Trier still wants to increase security. By spring 2022, the new measures will be in place and the Trier Gold Hoard will be again on display in the permanent exhibition.


DW reported on the beginning of the trial in August.

Find out more about the coin hoard on the website of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.