Raid at dawn: criminal investigation of Bode Museum heist successful

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by Björn Schöpe
translated by Annika Backe

July 13, 2017 – Apparently, Police is about to finally solve the spectacular burglary in the Berlin Bode Museum from March 27, 2017. Its value amounting to about €3.7 million, the Canadian gold coin Big Maple Leaf was stolen. At first, there were no leads on the suspects’ identity.

Raids in Berlin-Neukölln

On Wednesday morning (July 12, 2017), more than 300 police officers searched 14 buildings, most of them located in Berlin. Three task force units were involved when four strong suspects were arrested in Berlin-Neukölln at 6 a.m. Police also secured firearms, five vehicles and a six-figure sum of money.

Crime of an organized Arab clan

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, investigating chief prosecutor Martina Lamb explained: “We have to assume that we are dealing with an organized network of gangs, stemming from Arab clans.”
The suspects are between 18 and 20 years of age; three belong to an Arab clan the members of which have frequently attracted attention through criminal offences such as receiving and theft. Investigators believe they can identify two of them in the video that has been posted last week. Further investigations concentrate on nine other clan members who may also be involved in the crime.
The fourth arrested suspect was a member of the Bode Museum service staff. He had been employed only shortly before the heist, and he likely provided the members of the clan with information. He became the target of inspection measures because of past offences. Through him, Police successfully traced the gang after telephone surveillance. On two former occasions, the young men had spied on the museum and tried to break in. The third attempt proved successful, they were finally able to catch the gold coin in the weight of 100 kilograms.

… what about the coin?

As the head of the responsible unit ‘Qualifizierte Eigentumsdelikte beim Landeskriminalamt Berlin’, Carsten Pfohl remarked in the press conference, Police had hoped to find the Big Maple Leaf in one of the searched buildings as well. These hopes were vain.
Pfohl also told that none of the gold refineries contacted could say anything on the whereabouts of the coin. Investigators thus believe that the huge coin was either cut into smaller parts or, as a whole, taken out of the country. According to Pfohl, there is little hope to find the coin after all. An Arab jeweler in the Sonnenallee is said to have helped in the coin’s alleged destruction and selling. Therefore, there are initial grounds for suspicion that he is guilty of receiving.

Apart from the reports in German newspapers, you can read an English contribution in The Local journal.

If you want to watch a video of the press conference, just visit the website of the Berliner Zeitung.