October 15, 2009 – On September 21st, 2009, 47-year-old installer Sylvio Müller stood trial for dealing in stolen goods in 711 cases. Reason for that was his hobby that the Hessian police deemed suspicious: after work, Mr Müller cleaned coins which he had bought on eBay and resold single pieces, then cleaned, likewise on eBay. “There is more to it than meets the eye”, thought the police and carried out an investigation proceeding involving a house search and the taking possession of all coins and cleaning utensils.
This police action triggered 347 investigation proceedings against people that had bought coins from Sylvio Müller. The relatively low values involved notwithstanding, no one was afraid to request house searches which were in part even carried out. From single defendants entire coin collections were seized. In most cases a settlement was reached: the defendants divested themselves of the coins – in turn, the proceedings were stopped. A Bavarian police chief superintendent accused of dealing in stolen goods since he had bought ten Roman coins at the price of 6 Euros from Mr Müller for his son refused the closing of the proceeding because he didn’t want an endorsement in his personal file. His was proven right after all. On the persecution’s request, he was acquitted of all charges.
Exactly the same happened when Sylvio Müller stood trial. Within an hour, the prosecution pled for unconditional acquittal. According to the Wetterauer Zeitung from September 22nd, 2009, Judge Franske put her estimation of the case this way: “Rest assured – you are entitled to further pursue your hobby.”
If the former defendant still feels like it?
This second verdict reassures us coin collectors once again that in Germany no proof of origin is necessary in the coin trade – be it acquisition or sale. That holds true even if some police forces don’t want to hear it.
by Ursula Kampmann