Alwaght- Thieves in the German city of Dresden have broken into o Green Vault Museum, making swiped hundreds of artifacts in what German media has described as the biggest such theft since the second world war.
The dramatic heist took place at dawn on Monday, after a fire broke out at an electrical distribution point nearby, deactivating the museum’s alarm and plunging the area into darkness.
The Guardian reports that law enforcement said the stolen artifacts were worth close to one billion euros, but Dresden’s State Art Collections director Marion Ackermann told the newspaper that it is impossible to price the antiquities. “We cannot give a value because it is impossible to sell,” Ackermann said. “The material value doesn’t reflect the historic meaning.”
Despite the power cut, a surveillance camera filmed two men breaking into the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) at Dresden’s Royal Palace.
Volker Lange, the head of Dresden police, said the thieves smashed a window and cut through a fence before approaching and breaking open a display cabinet in the Grünes Gewölbe’s Jewel Room in “a targeted manner”.
Officers were at the scene within minutes of being alerted to the robbery shortly before 5am local time, but the suspects had escaped. A burning car found in Dresden early on Monday may have been the getaway vehicle, police said. They have set up roadblocks on motorway approach roads around the city in an attempt to prevent the suspects from leaving. But the close proximity of the gallery to the autobahn is likely to have helped the thieves’ speedy escape, police said.
Created by Augustus the Strong, the Elector of Saxony, in 1723, the Grünes Gewölbe is one of 12 museums which make up the famous Dresden state art collections. It got its name because some rooms were decorated with malachite-green paint.
One of the oldest museums in Europe, the Grünes Gewölbe holds treasures including a 63.8cm figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 547.71-carat sapphire gifted by Tsar Peter I of Russia.