It was one of the most spectacular crimes of the past years. In March 2017, the gold coin “Big Maple Leaf” from the Berlin Bode Museum was stolen. 100 kilos, worth 3.5 million euros.
Early on the morning of March 27, burglars used a ladder to climb through a window from elevated railroad tracks outside the Bode Museum, famous for its collections of statues, coins, medals and Byzantine art. They “forcibly opened” the window.
From there, the burglars climbed into a changing room located just a few meters away from the cabinet displaying the “Big Maple Leaf”, then “violently shattered” the bulletproof case surrounding the coin.
The robbers then lifted the “Big Maple Leaf” back into the changing room where it was hurled out of the museum window onto the tracks of a nearby railway line. They then exited the building and crossed the Spree river flowing outside the Bode-Museum on a railway bridge before escaping with their valuable bounty in a getaway vehicle.
Initially, investigators had few clues as to the identity of the robbers aside from video footage of three hooded individuals from a surveillance camera. However, three undercover policemen independently responded to a call for related information that the heist could be linked to the Remmo clan, a finding which was later confirmed by a DNA analysis of the ladder, ropes, adhesives and parts of an axe left at the scene of the crime.
After the tip-off, police began to surveil the three Remmo men and their accomplice on a running basis. They soon discovered that Denis W. had undergone a remarkable transformation in his standard of living, attempting to purchase a luxury vehicle and spending 11,000 euros for a gold chain in cash amongst others.
The four suspects were arrested by specialized police forces on July 12 last year who discovered gold traces with a purity of 99.999 percent, the same level as that of the “Big Maple Leaf” on their clothing and a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. The coin itself has never been found and is believed to have been broken up into little pieces and sold on.
Is the coin really still hidden…
Four men who went on trial in Berlin have denied involvement in the spectacular 2017 museum theft of a giant commemorative gold coin called the “Big Maple Leaf”.
The coin is valued at €3.75m.
Police had “presented not a single shred of firm evidence,” argued Toralf Noeding, defence lawyer for the three alleged thieves – brothers Wayci, 23, and Ahmed Remmo, 20, and their cousin Wissam Remmo, 21.
Mr Noeding also said that his clients had suffered prejudice from the broad media coverage of their extended family with roots in Lebanon, which police and prosecutors consider an organised crime group.
Also in the dock and claiming innocence was 20-year-old former museum security guard Denis Umut W., the alleged inside man, accused of giving the others crucial information for the break-in.
His lawyer Marcel Kelz denied media reports that the ex-guard had made major purchases, including an €11,000 gold chain, and shown interest in buying a Mercedes-Benz car and property months after the heist.
Police have found no trace of the 100kg Canadian coin since the late-night heist in March 2017 from the German capital’s Bode Museum, located close to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s apartment.
Prosecutors assume the nearly pure-gold treasure, which has a face value of one million Canadian dollars, was either cut up, molten down or taken abroad.
Police staged raids in July 2017 involving 300 officers on premises in and around Berlin linked to the Remmo clan to gather evidence. They confiscated guns, luxury cars and more than €100,000 in cash.
Investigators also used phone taps in more than 50 cases and GPS devices to track cars and searched more than 50 properties, said the defence.