Thieves in Berlin stole the world’s second-largest gold coin from a Berlin museum using a rope, a foldout ladder and a wheelbarrow. The heist took place right by Angela Merkel’s inner-city apartment, to boot.
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The Big Maple Leaf coin is one of five such gold commemorative coins made by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007. They weigh 100kg, and their diameter is 53cm and a thickness of 3cm. Its value is estimated at nearly €3.8m (£3.3m).
The coin was on loan to the Bode Museum from a private collection of a German property investor. The coin was at one time the heaviest on the planet. The “Australian Kangaroo One Tonne” gold coin in 2011. The Big Maple Leaf has been on display at the museum since 2010, encased in a bullet proof cabinet at the museum on Berlin’s museum island, located along the Spree river in the Mitte district. On the walls outside the museum in neo-baroque design advertised its current show Muse macht Moneten (or “Be creative and get rich”).
Between 3:20am and 3:45am, two thieves entered the museum via the third-floor window at the back of the 113-year-old building. The placed a ladder on elevated tracks on S1 railway between the last train on Sunday and Monday morning.
The window led the thieves into the security guards’ changing room. They smashed their way into the bulletproof cabinet with a tool like a sledgehammer and used the same route to get out with the coin. The thieves used a wheelbarrow to push the coin 100 meters along the tracks and across a bridge over the river to Monbijou Park, where they dropped the coin while abseiling down to the ground.
They then entered their getaway car. A burnt-out Mercedes found in a parking garage might be related to the theft, but police had yet to confirm this.
A member of Bode Museum’s security staff noticed at 4am. Police are unsure how such a high-end heist could be pulled off so easily.
“Some elements of this story raise questions, and we are currently asking those questions,” police spokesperson Winfried Wenzel said.
Angela Merkel’s apartment is only a “stone’s throw” from the window through which the thieves entered. CCTV cameras and the security system may have been disabled. Police were using footage from nearby stations and municipal buildings.
Many believe the coin has already been melted down, an act police call “hardly insurmountable in technical and logistical terms”.
The gold, at melt value, is currently worth $4,300,000.
Images: Royal Canadian Mint, Express