German Police Have Arrested Four Men Suspected of Stealing 483 Ancient Celtic Coins in an Elaborate Museum Heist

The men were found in possession of gold bars, likely made by melting down the stolen coins.

Gold bars made from melted down ancient Celtic coins that were stolen in a museum heist have been found by police in Germany, police announced. Photo courtesy of Bavarian State Criminal Police Office

Gold bars made from melted-down ancient Celtic coins that were stolen in a museum heist have been found by police in Germany. Four suspects have been arrested.

Thieves stole 483 coins from the Celtic Roman Museum in Manching after midnight on November 22, 2022. They severed several fiber optic cables, which caused internet and telephone connections in 13,000 households to go down for several hours. About an hour later, the museum was broken into and the suspects pried open two locked doors to make off with the gold coins.

The prosecutor’s office in Ingolstadt and the art investigators of the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office took over the investigations and recovered two blue crowbars, pruning shears, and a side cutter in the nearby area.

Police found a trace of DNA on the recovered items and conducted search in a nationwide DNA database and in neighboring countries, which alerted investigators to a string of eight similar thefts in Germany and Austria since 2014.

“The perpetrators were always equipped in the same way during the burglaries,” police said in a statement translated from German. “They wore black overalls with balaclavas and each had identical crowbars, screwdrivers and an angle grinder with several cutting discs.”

By examining the crime spree incidents together, investigators were able to identify the first suspect, a 42-year-old man from Schwerin, believed to have been involved in an April 2018 burglary. Through him, police identified a second suspect described as a 46-year-old German man.

Investigators eventually discovered two more suspects, a 50-year-old man from Schwerin and a 43-year-old man from Berlin, police said. The four men were arrested Tuesday and brought before investigating judges on Wednesday.

Police said the 43-year-old man from Berlin was carrying 18 gold nuggets in a plastic bag when he was arrested. Forensic analysts identified the material composition as having levels of gold, silver, and copper that corresponded to the composition of the stolen coins.

Prosecutors have charged the men with aggravated gang theft in combination with damaging property and disrupting telecommunications systems.

The museum praised the “significant success” of the investigation in a brief statement on Facebook.


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