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Robbers Burgle German Customs Office, Cart Away With 6.5M Euros

View of the customs office in the main terminal at Tegel ‘Otto Lilienthal’ Airport, in Berlin on November 8, 2020. Berlin’s beloved Cold War-era Tegel airport finally closed its doors on November 8 after a last flight took off, one week after a much-delayed replacement hub opened on the other side of the German capital.
John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

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German investigators said Wednesday they had launched a manhunt for suspects who made off with 6.5 million euros ($7.6 million) in cash after breaking into a customs office.

“The break-in was professionally planned and carried out: three as yet unidentified perpetrators used a drill to get to the vault from an adjoining room in the cellar of the building,” police said in a statement.

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“From there they stole about 6.5 million euros in cash.”

The heist, which struck the customs office in the western city of Duisburg, took place on Sunday, November 1.

Witnesses said they had heard drilling sounds at around 6:00 am. Three hours later, three men dressed in dark clothing and dark knit caps were seen walking in and out of the building to load objects into a white van with sliding doors.

They then drove off with the van.

Another witness noticed a man walking around the customs office before getting into a car and driving off in the same direction as the van.

Photographs of the man taken by the witness were published by police, who are offering a 100,000-euro reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the suspects.

– 100kg gold coin –

Germany has been hit by several high-profile heists, with banks and museums frequent targets.

A Berlin court sentenced three men to multi-year jail sentences in February for the spectacular theft of a 100-kilogram (220-lb) gold coin from one of the German capital’s museums.

Police have found no trace of the Canadian coin since the late-night heist in March 2017 from the Bode Museum, located close to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Berlin apartment.

The “Big Maple Leaf”, one of five minted in 2007, is considered the world’s second-largest gold coin after the one-tonne Australian Kangaroo issued in 2012.

Two of the men convicted belong to a family of Arab origin notorious for ties to organised crime, while the third was a security guard at the museum.

The Remmo family, whose patriarchs fled war-torn Lebanon in the 1980s, are considered to be one of Berlin’s most notorious organised crime clans.

Priceless diamonds were meanwhile among a huge haul of jewelry stolen from the Green Vault museum in Dresden’s Royal Palace in November last year.

Half a million euros in reward has been offered for information about the spectacular break-in, but no suspects have yet been named.

None of the objects, many encrusted with hundreds of diamonds, have been recovered.

Most recently in Berlin, at least three bank robbery attempts were reported over the summer.

A bank in the upmarket central district of Wilmersdorf was hit twice, with thieves reportedly making off with half a million euros in their first bid while holding up a money transporter.

It was unclear if any money was taken in the second attempt.

A separate bank in the German capital was also hit in August, but thieves fled empty-handed.

-AFP

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