November 28, 2019 / 4:48 PM / 12 days ago

Baffled German police offer reward to help solve jewelry heist

Jewellery stolen during a robbery from the Green Vault city palace in Dresden, Germany, November 25, 2019 is seen in an undated photo provided by the Saxony state police. Polizeidirektion Dresden/Handout via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police offered a reward of half a million euros on Thursday for clues that would help them find mystery robbers who smashed their way into a Dresden museum and made off with a haul of 18th century jewelry in one of Germany’s biggest heists.

The lightning raid at the Gruenes Gewoelbe, or Green Vault, one of Europe’s greatest collections of treasures, on Monday has left investigators baffled even though security camera footage showed two men breaking in through a barred window.

“We will stop at nothing to solve this case,” the president of Saxony police, Horst Kretzschmar, and prosecutor Klaus Roevekamp said in a statement.

“By offering a reward of half a million euros for clues that lead to catching the perpetrators who broke into the Green Vault in Dresden on Monday, the investigators ... are taking a further important step in bringing back the stolen items and catching those responsible,” they added.

Footage shows two men smashing a display cabinet containing jewelry with a hammer. Security guards saw the incident and quickly rang the police who arrived five minutes later but it was too late.

Most experts say the cultural value of the haul, which included three sets of 18th century jewelry, is greater than its market value. They fear it will be broken up and sold in smaller pieces.

The collection, which includes precious stones, sculptures and decorations some from gold and silver, was started in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony. It survived World War Two Allied bombing raids but ended up as Soviet war booty to be returned to Dresden in 1958.

The police also said the number of employees working on the case had been increased to 40 and the investigations were being led by the organized crime branch of Saxony state prosecutors.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Giles Elgood

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