The jewelry heist that shocked the world in 2019 may at last be resolved. Five men, aged 24 to 29, were convicted this morning of breaking into the Green Vault Museum () in Dresden, Germany and making off with millions of dollars worth of treasure.
The trial at Dresden’s state court lasted 47 days and more than 100 witnesses took to the stand. Today’s ruling found the men guilty of theft with weapons, damage to property and arson, and handed down jail sentences of four to six years, according to the BBC. A sixth defendant was acquitted.
The theft took place on November 25, 2019, and targeted over 4,300 treasures worth at least €113 million ($119 million), including the 49-carat Dresden White Diamond and the Polish Order of the White Eagle, which once belonged to the king of Poland.
On the night, the thieves got past high security by setting fire to a circuit-breaker panel to cause a local power cut. Their entry was then relatively unimpeded, since they had previously cut through protective bars over a window using a hydraulic cutting machine and put them back into place using tape. They escaped after just 10 minutes and fled to Berlin, where they were arrested several months later.
The thieves themselves apparently expressed surprise in court at how easily it had been to get away with the plan, especially considering the loud noises generated by their equipment. In 2020, four security guards were even investigated by the police over possible collusion with the criminals, in light of their slow response time and a series of other oversights.
The majority of these jewels were recovered by German authorities at the end of last year, thanks to information given the defendants’ lawyers as part of a plea bargain that saw four of the men confess to their involvement and the fifth confess to aiding the break-in.
31 objects in total were safely returned to the museum. Some important items are still missing, including a diamond known as the White Stone of Saxony.
The convicted men are all members of the notorious Remmo family, an organized crime network from Berlin that has also been connected to the theft of a gold coin from the Bode Museum in 2017. This object was never returned and is believed to have been sold or melted down.
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