1,638 police carried out raids in Berlin arresting three in relation to Dresden Green Vault heist

1,638 police carried out raids in Berlin arresting three in relation to Dresden Green Vault heist
Police carried out raids across Berlin in relation to the Dresden Green Vault heist, arresting three. Courtesy EPA.
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A major police raid has led to arrests and the seizure of items related to the Dresden Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) heist that occurred almost exactly a year ago. While the treasures taken in the robbery have yet to be recovered, three have been arrested in relation to the heist and it is hoped that confiscated items might shed more light on the matter.

More than 1,600 police were dispatched in massive raids carried out in the last day that targeted 18 properties, including garages, apartments, and vehicles, in the Berlin neighbourhoods of Neukölln and Kreuzberg. Ultimately, police arrested three of the perpetrators, all German citizens, responsible for the Dresden heist. They were expected to appear before a judge today with charges of “serious gang robbery and two counts of arson.”

Two other suspects, both aged 21, are still at large, but thought to be a part of the same crime family and police have released photos of them to the public. In the raids, police were also instructed to seize any items that may be related to the case, including computers, clothing, tools, and of course, any traces of the jewels.

Previously, Green Vault security guards were investigated in relation to the heist and a Berlin internet café was searched just weeks ago also in relation to the case.

One of the men arrested in the raids, named as Wissam Remmo (23), was also linked to the burglary of the “Big Maple Leaf,” a 100kg ceremonial gold coin that was a gift from Canada. The coin, worth over £3 million, was stolen in 2017 and is known to have been carried out by a “Lebanese mafia” family, often referred to as a clan in Germany. Earlier this year, Remmo was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison but has yet to start his time after an appeal was lodged.

Jürgen Schmidt, spokesperson for Dresden state prosecutor, confirmed that Remmo was in fact one of the men arrested, linking the Bode Museum robbery and Green Vault thefts together and tying them to the same family.

Both robberies were fairly old-school; in 2017, perpetrators used a wheelbarrow to make off with the coin. In the Dresden heist, a fire was started that cut power to the museum’s power system meaning that the alarm system malfunctioned. The thieves then broke in through a small window, smashed the protective cases and stole what some have estimated to be £900 million in jewels. After the jewels were grabbed, the robbers made their getaway in an Audi S6, later set on fire in a car park, before they headed to Berlin in a Mercedes disguised as a taxi.

“The brute force and the highly professional approach of the perpetrators made us painfully aware of the great challenges our museums face when it comes to security,” said culture minister Monika Grütters in a statement. As time goes on, the likelihood that the items stolen, whether it be the gold coin or the Green Vault jewels have been melted down or recut and sold on the black market.