Police called in divers after people fishing with magnets discovered a series of safes submerged in a canal. Documents inside will hopefully reveal the origins of the safes.
Divers discovered a collection of 45 open safes submerged in a canal in the western German city of Gelsenkirchen, police announced on Tuesday.
Police said they presumed that the safes had been dumped by thieves. The safes had been under a bridge for at least several weeks and showed signs of having been broken into.
Some of the safes still contained documents, which investigators hope will reveal more about their origins.
Members of the public had discovered small safes under a bridge over the Rhine-Herne canal a week ago and alerted police. Police then commissioned divers from the Water and Shipping Department to search the bottom of the canal.
The 46-kilometer (28-mile) canal was built in the early 1900s and links the port of Duisburg on the Rhine to the Dortmund–Ems Canal, which feeds into the sea port of Emden and the inland port of the city of Dortmund.
Investigators said they were hoping to speak to anybody who may have witnessed unusual behavior at the site in recent weeks.
Regional daily Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (German language) reported that the safes were initially found by people who were fishing with strong magnets to find scrap metal.
The paper said the canal had yielded clues to a litany of previous crimes, including other safes, stolen scooters and weapons.
aw/rc (dpa, AFP)