· As Police offers €500,000 reward for information that could lead to arrest of perpetrators, recovery of stolen items
The Royal Palace Museum in Dresden, Germany partially reopened to the public, except for the rooms known as the Green Vault, where the police continued to hunt for evidence to help them track down the thieves who broke in few days earlier, making off with 11 rare Baroque jewels.
Among the treasures in the Green Vault — founded by August the Strong, prince-elector of Saxony and King of Poland — were several sets of royal jewels. The thieves used an ax to break the security glass and steal three of them — the “Diamond Rose,” “Diamond” and “Queens’ Jewelry” sets — taking a total of 11 entire pieces, parts of two other pieces and several buttons, Dirk Syndram, the director of the Green Vault, said on Wednesday.
“These three sets included diamonds in various cuts that date largely from the time of August the Strong and August III,” Mr. Syndram said in a statement. “They were set between 1782 and 1789.”
Also, the Police in Germany has offered a €500,000 (£426,000) reward for information about the heist.
Police said the reward was being offered to anyone providing information “which could lead to the capture of the perpetrators or the recovery of the stolen items”.
On Thursday police said the Dresden investigations were now being led by the state prosecutor’s department for organised crime. The special commission set up to investigate the theft has doubled in size to involve a staff of 40.
“We will leave no stone unturned to solve this case,” said the regional police president Horst Kretzschmar.
Recall that priceless’ sets of 18th-century jewellery were carted away when thieves broke into Dresden’s Grünes Gewölbe, one of the world’s oldest museums. The museum houses one of Europe’s largest collection of treasures.
Two thieves were seen on camera entering through a window and later escaping in a vehicle. Police said there may be more people involved.
Police said the thieves targeted the historic section of the museum, which is divided into two sections — the historic treasure chamber of Augustus II the Strong dating to 1733, and the new section, which displays individual treasures.
The thieves stole at least three priceless 18th-century jewellery sets, according to General Director of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Marion Ackermann. She said the material value was low, but the worth from its historic and cultural value was impossible to gauge.
“We are shocked by the brutality of the burglary,” Ackermann said.
The museum’s power supply was possibly sabotaged by a fire before the break-in. The responsible energy supplier confirmed the incident and said it was investigating if the two events were linked. Police said power failure plunged the entire area into darkness, making video analysis difficult.
Ackermann told German broadcaster ZDF later Monday that multiple alarms were triggered by the burglary itself and through motion detectors in the room. Police were notified with the first alarm.
She also said the perpetrators “couldn’t take everything with them because all the objects were also individually secured and were sewn with stitches into the ground.”
The high-profile heist comes after a 100 kilogram (220 pounds), 24- carat giant gold coin was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.
Saxony State Premier Michael Kretschmer denounced the crime. “Not only the state art collections were robbed, but we Saxons,” Kretschmer said.
“The treasures that can be found in the Green Vault and in the Residence Palace have been hard-won by the people in the Free State of Saxony over many centuries. One cannot understand the history of our country, our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony.”
Across 10 highly decorated rooms, about 3,000 pieces of jewellery and other masterpieces made of gold, silver, precious stones, ivory and other valuable materials are displayed.
The building was damaged in World War II but was subsequently repaired. Since its reopening in September 2006, it has been one of Dresden’s tourist magnets.