World Coins

German police make arrests in heist of gold coin

German police have made arrests in the brazen heist of a giant gold Canadian coin of the type shown here. The $1 million coin (worth nearly four times that in gold) was stolen March 27 in Berlin.

Image courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint.

Police in Germany have arrested individuals in connection with one of the most brazen and famous recent coin heists in the world.

Law enforcement officials in Berlin detained four suspects in the March 2017 theft of the 100-kilogram gold Canadian coin with a face value of $1 million from the Bode Museum in Germany’s capital. 

The 2007 coin was minted from 100 kilograms of .99999 fine gold, one of six made by the Royal Canadian Mint.

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A Coin World correspondent from Germany, who is a numismatic journalist there, has confirmed that 13 suspects were targeted in raids in Berlin’s Neukoelln district. The raids were announced July 12.

All four suspects detained are under the age of 21, and according to multiple European news reports, are from a large Arab family with connections to organized crime. 

On March 27, three people walked along the train tracks near Berlin’s Hackescher Markt and Friedrichstrasse light rail stations, propped a ladder against the wall of the Bode Museum and climbed into the building. Once inside, the thieves smashed through the bulletproof cabinet and retraced their steps back out of the museum, using a wheelbarrow to cart the giant coin 100 meters down the tracks, across a bridge to a nearby park, according to The Guardian

Was it an inside job?

The theft appears to have occurred around 3:30 a.m. local time. Only one security guard was in the museum at the time of the break-in, according to Coin World’s correspondent Sebastian Wieschowski. 

“He is also under investigation because he presented different stories on what actually happened,” Wieschowski reported. 

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This was at least the criminals’ second effort to break into the museum, Wieschowski said, after a failed attempt on March 21. 

Police acknowledge there is little to no hope of finding the coin intact, and that it likely was melted and the gold sold. 

The $1 million coin measured 53 centimeters across and 3 centimeters thick and contained 220 pounds — 3,215 troy ounces — of gold. The gold has a current market value of about $3.9 million U.S. (the coins were each worth about $2.2 million U.S., when issued in 2007.

The $1 million coins depict the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and a Stan Witten design of three maple leaves on the reverse. 

The Bode Museum houses more than 500,000 numismatic items, with some 4,000 items on display at any given time. The gold coin was the only target in the heist. 

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