German police raid homes in search for stolen Canadian gold coin

The ‘Big Maple Leaf’ coin, issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, on display at Dorotheum auction house in Vienna June 16, 2010. (HEINZ-PETER BADER/REUTERS)

German special police units raided several homes in Berlin early Wednesday in connection with the brazen heist of a 100-kilogram Canadian gold coin stolen from one of the city’s most famous museums earlier this year.

Heavily armed masked police arrested at least two suspects, one wearing a hood over his head, during early morning raids in the city’s Neukoelln neighbourhood.

“We assume that the two suspects match the ones seen on the video footage from surveillance cameras” during the burglary, police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel told The Associated Press.

He said searches of the apartments were still continuing, but so far the coin hadn’t been found. Experts think the coin may have been melted down to cash in on the gold, Wenzel added.

The “Big Maple Leaf” coin is three centimetres thick with a diameter of 53 centimetres and has a portrait of the Queen on one side and maple leaves on the other.

At least two burglars broke into the museum at night, using a ladder to climb to a window from elevated railway tracks. They grabbed the coin, loaded it onto a wheelbarrow and then carted it out of the building and along the tracks across the Spree river before descending into a park on a rope and fleeing in a getaway car.

In July, police published still photos made from surveillance video asking the public for help in finding the thieves.

The coin was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007 and it is in the Guinness Book of Records for its purity of 999.99/1000 gold.

Royal Canadian Mint spokesman Alex Reeves said at the time of the theft that the coin has a face value of $1-million, but by weight alone it would be worth almost US$4.5-million at market prices.

He said a total of five coins were produced and the one stolen in Germany was one of those five.

The coin was on loan from a private, unidentified person, the German news agency dpa reported.

Comments are closed.