Berlin police can't make heads nor tails of giant coin heist

The 100kg 'Big Maple Leaf' coin, worth €3.7m, was taken from a museum

Berlin police can't make heads nor tails of giant coin heist

Stretching 53cm in diameter, the 'Big Maple Leaf' coin was one of five created by the Royal Canadian Mint [Marcel Mettelsiefen/DPA/PA Images]

Thieves made off with a massive 100kg gold coin worth as much as €4m after stealing it from its display at a Berlin museum early on Monday morning.

According to the Berlin police, the robbers broke into the Bode Museum through a window around 3.30am on Monday morning. They then broke into display cabinet that housed the giant coin, making off with it before police officers could respond.

Police have yet to reveal how the thieves successfully avoided setting off any of the Bode Museum’s alarms or managed to escape with their heavy booty, which is conceivably too weighty for a single person to carry.

The heist

“Based on the information we have so far, we believe that the thief, maybe thieves, broke open a window at the back of the museum next to the railway tracks,” said Winfrid Wenzel, a spokesman for the Berlin police.

“They managed to enter the building and went to the coin exhibition. The coin was secured with bullet-proof glass inside the building. That much I can say.”

Police believe the thieves made their escape via a nearby railway track, after a ladder was found beside it.

The ‘Big Maple Leaf’ is one of five gold coins weighting 100kg apiece. Produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, they carry the face value of CA$1m (€690,000), but are made of pure gold. Each coin measures 3cm thick and 53cm in diameter.

The face side of the coin features the profile of the Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also the Canadian head of state, with the obverse side decorated with three maple leaves.

Museum Island

Located on Berlin’s world-famous Museuminsel, an island in the German capital housing five museums that received UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999, the Bode Museum is famous for having one of the world’s biggest coin collections.

A must see for numismatics fans across the world, the ‘Big Maple Leaf’ had been on display there since 2010, part of the Münzkabinett collection, which includes more than 540,000 coins, including thousands of examples of Greek and Roman coins. No other coins in the museum are understood to have been taken in the heist.

When asked by the German broadsheet Die Welt what the thieves could be planning to do with the stolen coin, Winfrid Wenzel said: “Either they were hired to do it by someone who wanted to have the coin, but it’s more likely that it will be melted down.”

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