Folks, forget all those museum heists you’ve seen in Hollywood movies or read about in WWII history books because all those pale in comparison to the one that’s unfolded at Dresden’s Green Vault.
Police have confirmed (via The Guardian) that thieves managed to break into Dresden’s Green Vault – the largest collection of treasures in all of Europe – on the morning of November 25 and steal three sets of 18th century jewelery consisting of diamonds and rubies worth over a billion Euros (about $1.6 billion AUD).
Over. A. Billion. Euros.
Deemed the largest theft of any sort since World War II, the details of this Green Vault museum heist sounds like something taken from a, well, Hollywood movie.
At around 4am, thieves started a fire on the Augustus Bridge near the museum (via The Daily Beast), which knocked out a power box. This cut power to the museum and knocked out all its security systems, except for the CCTV.
From there, two thieves cut the iron bars around a window in order to break into the Green Vault’s Jewel Room. Unlike the smooth handiwork seen in cinematic museum heists, it is reported that the thieves gained access to the jewels by smashing the glass displays with an axe.
After getting their hands on 37 pieces of jewelery the two thieves exited the same window they came in but not before they replaced the iron bars in an attempt to delay detection.
The CCTV managed to spot the two men escaping, reportedly in a limo before swapping to an Audi A6, but the robbery wasn’t discovered until about 5am, by which time the thieves were long gone.
Despite police attempts at setting up roadblocks in an attempt to catch the thieves, authorities state that the close proximity of the autobahn likely helped the thieves escape due to the lack of speed limits.
While it is reported that the stolen jewels are worth well over a billion Euros, the director of Dresden’s state art collections, Marion Ackermann, says it’s impossible to put a number on the items as “it is impossible to sell” due to how recognisable they are.
But the more worrying thing about the stolen jewels isn’t that they’ll turn up at a flea market somewhere, it’s the fear that the jewelery may be altered, “broken up or melted down” in order to flog them without suspicion. Ackerman says “the material value doesn’t reflect the historical meaning.” The thieves are still at large at the time of writing.
Aaand scene. Whew.
Look, there’s no real way to sum up just how wild this museum heist is. All we can say is this – the inevitable Hollywood movie about this theft is going to be awesome.