Everyone loves a good heist story. Films like Ocean’s Eleven, the Usual Suspects, Snatch and the Italian Job are riveting, full of action and – well, fake, right? Except, sometimes a group of people plan a major theft and get away with it. One group in Germany did just that! Well… until they got caught.
Four men have been accused of stealing a 220-pound 24-carat gold coin (you read that right) worth around $4.3 million from a museum in Berlin. According to court records, prosecutors claim that three of the men crawled into the Bode Museum through a window on the third-story in the early morning back in March 2017.
They used a ladder on an elevated train track behind the building. Once they entered the building, they are accused of smashing into a bulletproof case (somehow) and hauled the coin (somehow) out the window. All without activating any alarms (somehow).
Once they successfully wrangled the coin out the window and down to the ground, they used a wheelbarrow to push it around 100 meters down the train tracks and across a bridge over the river, where the dropped and damaged the coin before hoisting it in a car and driving off.
To this day, the coin has not been found. Police suspect that the defendants melted it down and sold it off in parts. The fourth suspect, not directly involved on the night of, is a museum guard who has been accused of helping the team.
During the trial, the state prosecutor demanded the $4.31 million to be taken from the defendants. The men deny their involvement with the theft, and a defense lawyer for one claimed that the police had not presented a single shred of evidence that these men were the brains – or brawn - behind the heist. What evidence does exist simply shows three masked men with hoodies on breaking into the museum.
The police are likely interested in these particular men because of their ties to the ‘Remmo’ clan, which is a Lebanese crime family with significant power and influence in Berlin. Members of the Remmo clan have been suspected of multiple crimes, including murder, blackmail, and people-trafficking.
Back in 2017, thanks to new anti-money laundering legislation, the police in Berlin held an extensive raid on multiple Remmo properties, seizing nearly 80 houses worth about $11.5 million – all suspected of being purchased with the proceeds of the crime in question. Their defense lawyer denies any connection to the family.
If the men are found guilty, they could face up to ten years in jail. A final verdict is expected sometime in late March 2018. However, the main suspects could be sentenced as juveniles because they were under the age of 21 at the time of the crime. The coin was named the largest coin in the world in 2007, although Australia’s Perth Mint has since overtaken it.