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Dresden’s Green Vault: The Heist of the Century?

Did thieves just pull off the robbery of the century in one of Germany’s oldest art museums?

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Some news stories sound more like blockbuster action films than reality. The robbery of a castle museum in Dresden, Germany, is one of these tales. Recently, a group of thieves broke into a castle vault and made off with valuable artifacts. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, the burglars have not yet been identified or found.

The Heist

German police stated that at least four thieves had broken into the Green Vault — an area of the castle used to house valuable and historical jewels. The castle was built by August the Strong, who was the King of Poland. The suspects stole 11 artifacts, including the “Diamond Rose” and “Queen’s Jewelry” sets.

According to investigators, the suspects performed the heist on Monday, November 25. They partially cut the power to the building before breaking the iron gate and a window to enter the Green Vault, located on the ground floor of the museum. They used a fire extinguisher to cover their tracks. The police have asked the public for assistance in apprehending the criminals. They went so far as to offer a reward of 500,000 euros ($554,000 US) for information leading to the capture of the suspects.

This incident has caused some to be concerned about the security of other museums across the country. Eckart Köhne, the president of the Dresden State Art Collection, released a statement saying:

 “The break-in at the Green Vault gives us a reason to re-examine whether the threat level has changed in recent years. For this, the museums need assistance from their sponsors, as well as police and security specialists.”

Surveillance video shows two of the suspects approaching a display case. One of them uses an ax to break the glass and gain access to the jewelry. “The case looks like a battlefield,” said Dirk Syndram, the director of the Green Vault. The police also found a burned-out car that the suspects used as their escape vehicle.

The museum has not provided a monetary value of the items that were stolen, but staff did indicate that it would be impossible to sell the jewels on the open market because they would be easily recognized. This fact has led to fears that the culprits would disassemble the pieces and melt the gold so they can sell the parts separately, without getting caught. Other sources have estimated the value of the stolen goods at one billion euros, or over $1 billion US.

Will They be Caught?

The suspects have still not been identified, nor do the police seem any closer to capturing them. While the reward offer might offer some help, it will be quite a challenge for law enforcement to discover the identity of the burglars.

Regardless of the outcome, it is apparent that museums like the Green Vault must ensure that their security measures are effective. It’s possible that since heists such as this are rare outside of the movies, the castle’s staff didn’t think such a crime was likely. They now have cause to change their minds.

Jeff Charles

Race Relations & Media Affairs Correspondent at and A self-confessed news and political junkie, Jeff’s writing has been featured in Small Business Trends, Business2Community, and The Huffington Post. Born in Southern California and having experienced the 1992 L.A. Riots up close and personal, Jeff’s insights are informed by his experiences as a black man and a conservative.

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