1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

'Spectacular' coin heist used a wheelbarrow

March 29, 2017

It wasn't exactly 'Mission Impossible' - thieves simply pushed a ladder against a window and loaded a coin worth millions into a wheelbarrow. Then they likely dropped the coin and scaled down a rope into an awaiting car.

People handling the "Big Maple Leaf" coin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/H. K. Techt

When news broke that robbers had stolen a giant gold coin worth 4 million euros ($4.3 million) on Monday night, staff at Berlin's Bode Museum spoke of circumvented security systems and bulletproof glass.

But police released new details on Tuesday that revealed the thieves relied on rather old-fashioned methods.

Berlin investigators said suspects likely ran along some elevated train tracks and pushed a ladder up against an upper-level window. They are thought to have smashed the glass case and loaded the 100-kilogram (221-pound) coin into a wheelbarrow and wheeled it back across the ladder and back down the train tracks.

After crossing the Spree River on the tracks, they climbed down a rope and loaded the giant coin into an awaiting car and escaped.

Police deduced that at least two burglars were involved, given the heft of the coin. They found the rope, the ladder and the wheelbarrow as well a burning Mercedes in an underground parking garage, which all led them to the theory of how the heist took place.

Authorities found a substantial impact mark under the train tracks which indicated the coin had possibly been dropped from the tracks and was likely damaged.

Inside job?

The Berlin Bode-Museum
Police questioned whether the burglars had help from the insideImage: picture-alliance/ZB/K. Schindler

Police did not release details on any alarm systems but floated the idea that it could have been an inside job.

Police called for witnesses and any security camera footage that businesses might have captured to be turned over to investigators.

German financial paper "Handelsblatt" reported the coin, known as the "Big Maple Leaf" had been on loan to the museum from a wealthy German real estate developer since 2010. The museum was insured against the loss.

Experts said the 53-centimeter (21-inch) coin, one of only five minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, would be difficult to sell and would likely be melted down.

The Bode Museum has one of the world's largest coin collections with more than 540,000 items.


aw/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)