Five men from Berlin crime family sentenced for £100m Dresden jewel heist

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Five men from a Berlin family were yesterday sentenced to prison for carrying out a spectacular theft of priceless baroque jewels at Dresden’s Historic Green Vault three-and-a-half years ago.

The men, all aged under 30, received prison sentences ranging from four years and four months to six years and three months for dangerous bodily injury, arson, armed theft and damage to property. A sixth suspect, who had an alibi, was not convicted, according to reports by German media including the German press agency, DPA.

All those sentenced are members of the Remmo family, notorious for its involvement in serious crime. Two of the men on trial were previously found guilty of stealing a giant gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum in a similarly brazen heist two years before the Dresden burglary.

On 25 November 2019, the men smashed a vitrine that housed three ensembles of royal jewels comprising diamonds and pearls that belonged to the Saxon Elector Augustus the Strong and his family. They had previously plunged the entire street into darkness with an arson attack on an electricity distribution point. They set off a fire extinguisher to erase their traces.

By the time the police arrived, five minutes after guards spotted the intruders on CCTV and alerted them, the burglars had gone. Their getaway was minutely planned: an Audi A6 was found burning in an underground garage, where they had parked a second vehicle. The arson attack in the garage also damaged several other cars and endangered the life of a woman.

A year after the heist, police raided several residences and other premises in Berlin and caught three of the thieves. The other suspects were caught in subsequent operations. Late last year, the men charged returned part of the booty and agreed to confess to the crime in return for capped sentences in a deal negotiated with the court.

Among the jewels returned—some slightly damaged—were a brilliant-cut diamond breast star, a rose-cut diamond epaulette, shoe buckles, skirt buttons, hat ornaments and a rapier. The items still missing include a brilliant-cut diamond necklace worn by Queen Amalie Auguste, an epaulette of white diamonds and various smaller pieces. The total initial loss was estimated to be around €113m (£98m).

The state of Saxony has also filed a civil claim against the thieves for damages of almost €89 million.

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