By Lenore Fedow
lenore.fedow@nationaljeweler.com
Thieves broke into the jewel room of the historic Green Vault museum in Dresden, Germany in November 2019 and made off with several pieces dating back to the 18th century. (Image credit: © Grünes Gewölbe, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Photo: David Brandt)
Dresden, Germany—The plot thickens as German authorities dig deeper into the November 2019 theft of invaluable 18th-century royal jewelry from Dresden’s Green Vault museum.

Four security guards employed at Dresden’s Royal Palace are under investigation for potential involvement in the heist, a spokesperson for the Saxon Police confirmed to National Jeweler.

“We do not know at this time whether the investigation into the four guards is a key to the solution of the case, but at this point we are following all leads,” said the spokesperson, adding that “urgent suspicion” has not yet been found and that the investigation will continue.

Investigators are looking at the two security guards who were on duty at the museum on the morning of the theft, believing they did not “react adequately” to the break-in and did not try to prevent it, as per a Guardian report, as well as the other two guards who are believed to have helped the thieves.

One of the guards thought to have been working with the thieves was arrested Nov. 29. The guard is believed to have passed along information about the layout of the museum and its security system.

The other is suspected of tampering with the museum’s alarm system, the Guardian reported.

The day of the heist, there was an electrical fire near the museum, which knocked out the streetlights as well as the lights in front of the window through which the thieves entered.

The guards on duty notified the police the morning of the theft after spotting two individuals entering the museum on video surveillance cameras.

Marion Ackermann, Dresden’s State Art Collections director, told reporters at a press briefing after the heist that 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.

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

20200311 Dresden Car copyA photo of the getaway vehicle. (Photo credit: Polizei Sachsen)The getaway car has been a key piece of the puzzle for German authorities as they work on what they are calling “Operation Epaulette,” a nod to an ornamental shoulder piece and one of the jewels stolen in the heist.

The Saxon police, who preside over the state of Saxon, where Dresden is located, continued to investigate the car and their findings substantiated the theory that the theft was planned in advance, according to a press release from the department.

Investigators determined that it was a 2006 Audi S6 that was deregistered in 2017 and sold by a private seller in August 2019, just a few months before the break-in, to a young man who authorities believe is connected to the burglary. Authorities believe the car may have been repainted a different color shortly before the heist.
20200311 Dresden SuspectA sketch of the man police believe is connected to the jewelry theft
The man is described as around 25 years old with dark hair and a slim figure. Police have put out a sketch of the suspect.

After analysis by specialists from the State Criminal Police Office in Saxony, the public prosecutor and the police believe at least seven people were involved in the jewel heist, backed up by its investigation and video evaluations.

Investigators have received around 1,300 tips from the public and will be looking into them.

The police and public prosecutor have offered a reward of €500,000 ($564,000) for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators.

SEE: The Jewelry Stolen from the Green Vault




Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.