A historic museum in Germany has been looted of potentially millions of dollars worth of valuables in a brazen overnight heist in the city of Dresden.
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The State Art Collections located in the Green Vault were the target of the theft. Two burglars are said to have stolen historical jewelry, diamonds and gems that amount to millions of dollars in loss and damages.
The burglars are believed to have broken through an iron window grate to gain entry, Dresden police said in a statement.
Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer was dismayed by the heist. “Not only the state art collections were robbed, but we Saxons,” said the Prime Minister of Saxony Michael Kretschmer in the aftermath of the heist. “The values found in the Grünes Gewölbe and the Residenzschloss have been hard-won by the people of the Free State for many centuries. You cannot understand the history of our country, our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony.” said the head of government.
The perpetrators allegedly set fire to a power box in order to turn off the power which would shut down the alarm systems. According to the police in a press conference given on Monday, the looters cut through the bars covering the window to the treasury and then entered. The museum alarm sounded at 4:59 a.m. on Monday morning, and although police were on the scene by 5:04 a.m., the looters had already managed to escape.
Police confirmed that there is evidence they escaped in a getaway car, believed to be an Audi 6.
A car fitting the same description was set on fire at a parking garage nearby, officials said. That vehicle was towed and is currently being examined.
One of the burglars could be seen on security camera footage during the heist, police said, adding that they intend to release the footage at some point.
A special unit called “Epaulette” has been set up to examine the forensics of the investigation.
It is not yet clear exactly what was stolen, but the thieves have taken part or all of three jewelry sets dating from the 18th century, which could amount to up to 100 pieces of jewelry, jeweled buttons and cuff links. The Dresden authorities would not put a price on the jewels but said that the historic and cultural value was just as valuable — or even more important — than the monetary value.
“There is nowhere in any other collection in Europe jewels or jewels set that have been preserved in this form and quality and quantity as these royal sets,” said Dirk Syndram, the director of the Green Vault at the Dresden State Art Collections at the press conference.
Dresden police tweeted: “This morning, there was a break-in to the historic museum # Green Vault in #Dresden. Currently our crime scene group of #LKA is in action investigates. Statements about how much was stolen and damage are not yet available. More information will follow during the day.”
The historic rooms of the Green Vault were built in the 16th century and are currently home to the State Art Collections across two floors.
ABC News’ Sara Hucal contributed to this report.