The break-ins were old-fashioned in their execution, the loot extravagant in value.
Now investigators have concluded that the perpetrators behind two of the most spectacular heists in recent German history probably hail from the same organised crime syndicate.
Arrests made in large-scale raids in Berlin’s Neukölln district on Tuesday morning link last year’s historic jewel heist at a Dresden museum to the same “Lebanese mafia” family whose members were sentenced earlier this year over the theft of one of the world’s largest gold coins from a Berlin museum.
In an operation involving 1,638 officers, police searched 18 apartments, garages and vehicles, and arrested three German citizens they suspect of involvement in the break-in at Dresden’s Grünes Gewölbe or Green Vault Museum in November 2019, when robbers forced their way into the museum and got away with at least three sets of early 18th-century jewellery.
At least one of the prime suspects detained on Tuesday was also involved in the high-profile heist at Berlin’s Bode Museum on 27 March 2017, when thieves used a wheelbarrow and a skateboard to abscond with the “Big Maple Leaf,” a 100kg commemorative coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint worth some $4.5m.
“I can confirm that one of the suspects has already been sentenced because of the theft at the Bode Museum”, said Jürgen Schmidt, spokesperson for Dresden state prosecutor, in a press conference on Tuesday morning.
The suspect has been named by German media as Wissam Remmo, 23, a member of one of a number of Neukölln-based families with Lebanese roots whose reputation for mafia-like organised crime inspired 2017 German TV drama “4 Blocks”.