Germany makes arrests over theft of giant solid-gold coin

image copyrightReuters
image captionThis file photo shows an identical coin from the same mintage

Police have raided homes and made arrests in Berlin over an audacious night-time heist which saw a huge solid-gold coin stolen from a museum.

The raids took place and a car was seized in the district of Neukoelln, German news agency DPA reports.

The suspected robbers are believed to have used a ladder to get into the Bode museum and a wheelbarrow to carry the 53cm (21in) coin away in March.

Last week, police released CCTV footage of suspects at a local train station.

The Canadian "Big Maple Leaf" is made of 100kg (220lb) of pure 24-carat gold - which means it is worth about $4.2m (£3.3m), despite a lower nominal face value.

It has not been found and investigators say they believe it may have been melted down and sold.

They are said to be at a loss as to how the thieves broke bullet-proof glass inside the building and evaded burglar alarms.

media captionThe stolen Canadian coin was stolen from behind bulletproof glass

As well as making the arrests on Wednesday morning, police seized a car where a balaclava and knife were found.

Sources inside the investigation say the suspects come from a "large Arab family" with alleged links to organised crime.

The Big Maple Leaf coin

  • Minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, and certified at the time by Guinness World Records as the world's largest gold coin
  • Five coins were made
  • 3cm (1.18in) thick, 53cm in diameter, and with likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on one side, as Canada's head of state
  • The other side shows the Canadian national symbol, the maple leaf
  • Canadian Mint says: "Why did the Royal Canadian Mint make the world's purest and largest gold bullion coin? Because we can"
  • Was held in a coin cabinet at the Bode Museum as one of more than 540,000 objects, but German media report only the "Big Maple Leaf" was stolen

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