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Officials say two thieves broke into the jewel room of the historic Green Vault in Dresden, Germany and made off several pieces dating back to the 18th century. (Image credit: © Grünes Gewölbe, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Photo: David Brandt)
Berlin—Police say a manhunt is underway in Germany after thieves made off with royal jewelry from the Green Vault Museum in Dresden, a centuries-old museum that houses thousands of jewels.

The thieves reportedly broke open a glass case containing three sets of Baroque-style jewelry that date to the 18th century, as per an AP report.

Security guards notified police of the heist around 5 a.m. after spotting two individuals entering the museum on video surveillance cameras.

WATCH: Video Surveillance of the Break-In


Marion Ackermann, Dresden’s State Art Collections director, told reporters it is standard security procedure at the museum to call the police in the event of a break-in rather than intervene.

Although officers arrived on the scene within minutes, the thieves already had sped off in a getaway car, Dresden Police Chief Joerg Kubiessa told reporters during a press conference.

An official noted that although police closed exits on the nearby motorway, it would be easy to get from the museum to the highway within minutes, as per a CNN report.

Investigators are looking into a nearby electrical fire, which disabled the streetlights at the time of the robbery as well as the lights in front of the window the thieves entered, Volker Lange of the Dresden Police Department said to reporters.


An unregistered Audi A6 was found set on fire nearby in an underground parking lot, which police confirmed matched the description of the getaway car.

SEE: The Jewelry Stolen from the Green Vault

As for the jewelry, art collection director Ackermann could not put a price on the value of the items.

“We cannot give a value because it is impossible to sell,” she told reporters. “The material value doesn’t reflect the historic meaning.”

Ackermann added that she hoped the pieces would be kept intact and stay a set.

Dirk Syndram, the Green Vault director, echoed a similar sentiment and noted the “invaluable” cultural worth of the pieces, particularly because of the sets’ completeness.

“Nowhere in any other collection in Europe have jewels or sets of jewels been preserved in this form and quantity,” he said to reporters. “The value is really in the ensemble.”

Roland Wöller, the state’s interior minister, described the theft as “a bitter day for the cultural heritage of Saxony.” He vowed to secure the return of the jewelry and capture the thieves with the help of a special team of investigators.

The investigation has been dubbed Operation Epaulette.

Michael Kretschmer, governor of Saxony, took to Twitter to comment on the heist, stating: “It’s not just the state art collections that was robbed, but us Saxons.

“One can’t understand the history of Saxony without the Green Vault.”

The Green Vault is one of the world’s oldest museums, created in 1723 by Augustus the Strong of Saxony, who wanted to establish Dresden as an arts hub.

His treasury, on display in Dresden’s Royal Palace, includes 4,000 jewels, objets d’art, and other historically significant items.

Its most famous treasure is the Dresden Green Diamond, a 41-carat green diamond, which is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for an exhibit.

The museum’s website noted it was closed Monday for “organizational reasons.”


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