The Great Dresden Heist, November 25 2019

The Green Vault at the Green Castle is a museum located in Dresden, Germany which contains the largest treasure collection in Europe. The museum was founded in 1723 by Augustus the Strong of Poland and Saxony. It features a variety of exhibits in styles from Baroque, Classicism to Renaissance.  

On the night of November 25, 2019, thieves broke into the Green Vault and made off with a large number of royal jewellery. Among the items stolen included the 49 carat Dresden White Diamond, the diamond-laden breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle which belong to the King of Poland, a hat clasp with a 16 carat diamond, a diamond epaulette, and a diamond studded hilt containing nine large and 770 smaller diamonds, along with a matching scabbard.

Earlier in November, one of the main treasures of the museum, the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond was not on site, as it was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The stolen items were of immense cultural value to the State of Saxony and these were priceless items. One source estimated that the loss may come up to about €1 billion.

At around 4 a.m. on that night, a small fire was started at the nearby Augustus Bridge, which destroyed a power junction box. The resulting power outage disabled most of the streetlights and the security alarms. However, the CCTV was still functioning and managed to record the scene of the break-in.

From the CCTV, the police believed that there were 4 criminals on the job, although the footage only showed two of them who broke in. They cut through the iron bars around a small window to gain access into the museum’s Jewel Room. They smashed the glass displays with an axe to gain access to the jewellery items.

The thieves then exited through the same window, replacing the bars to delay detection. The robbery was only detected by the guards at 04:56a.m. Police cars arrived at the crime scene soon after.

The German State of Saxony, who is the owner of the Green Vault museum, said that all the stolen items were not insured. The State Finance Ministry clarified that this is standard practice because the premiums typically exceed the potential damages in the long term. Only museum items that are on loaned to other institutions, while in transit or while in the custody of the museum which displayed the items, are insured.

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