Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

German police make arrests over €4m gold coin heist

Maple Leaf coin in the Bode Museum in Berlin. Special police units in Germany have raided several homes in Berlin on Wednesday Berlin police make arrests over giant gold coin theft
Lamar Ellis | 13 July, 2017, 01:52

Berlin police have arrested several people in connection with the robbery of the 'Big Maple Leaf', a gold coin weighing 100kg and valued at $1 million (£778,270), in March.

Police carried out raids of several properties in the district of Neukölln in Berlin on Wednesday morning (12 July) and arrested two people in connection with the robbery.

The Canadian "Big Maple Leaf" stolen in late March has a face value of $1 million, but the market price of 100 kilos of gold is nearly $4 million.

It was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest gold coin in 2008.

It is thought those who stole the commemorative coin wanted to melt it down so they could make it into small pieces of gold.

"We assume that the coin was partially or completely sold", Carsten Pfohl of the Berlin state criminal office told reporters at a press conference. The police also found the rope, the ladder and the wheelbarrow as well a burning Mercedes in an underground auto park.

The coin, with a face value of $1 million, bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II.

Police said the four unidentified suspects, aged 18 to 20, and nine other suspects were all members of, or closely connected to, a Berlin organised crime group with an Arabic family clan at its core. It's one of only five that were made by the Royal Canadian Mint.

Investigators believe the thiefs used a ladder and a wheelbarrow to remove the coin from the museum.

According to the police representative, there was first evidence that the coin, named "Big Maple Leaf" could have been melted down in the jeweler's store that was searched.

Police had published footage from surveillance video asking the public for help in finding the thieves.

It was probably damaged when the thieves dropped it twice - once onto rail tracks that pass the museum and cross the Spree river, and again in Monbijou park on the opposite river bank, from where they sped off in a vehicle.

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