Dresden: Theft in the Green Vault – jewels are being restored

There is hope for the pieces of jewelry that were sprayed with powder by jewel thieves in the Dresden Grünes Gewölbe. "According to the current assessment, the remaining works will be able to be cleaned without residue," said a spokesman for the State Art Collections (SKD). "That's what the restorers are currently doing."


Two unidentified burglars had stolen a dozen or so out of a glass case containing diamonds and diamonds last month from a display case. They had forced their way into the museum in the early morning, knocking three holes in the glass case with an ax in the jewel room. Apparently, they did not sprinkle them with fire-extinguishing powder in order to cover their tracks. After only a few minutes they were able to flee with their prey.


The Baroque Treasury Museum Augustus the Strong (1670-1733) has since been closed. An interim solution for the ruined display case in the jewel room is being worked on, according to the SKD. "We want to make the Historical Green Vault accessible to the public as soon as possible," said the spokesman. Together with the building administration of the Free State, Police and State Criminal Police Office, the security concept is currently under review.



The thieves had stolen eleven prominent pieces of jewelry, parts of two other objects, and a group of rock buttons with diamonds and diamonds from the precious collection. The investigators of the 40-member Special Commission "Epaulette" are sure that four perpetrators were involved in the jewel theft. For hints, a reward of half a million euros was awarded.


So far, the investigators came 516 references from the population. An "urgent suspicion against a specific person" is still not there, said the Chief Attorney Klaus Rövekamp and Dresden police chief Jörg Kubiessa. The investigation would "take some time yet."


As a consequence of the case, the criminal scientist Daniel Zerbin called for improvements in the protection of art treasures. A rethinking was "absolutely necessary". The current case shows the weaknesses of German security architecture, especially with regard to the involvement of private companies. Security guards in museums are often viewed as second-class employees and poorly paid, with high turnover.


photo gallery


Burglary into the Green Vault:
These jewels have stolen the thieves


The security guards of a private security firm were apparently overburdened or restricted in their actions in Dresden, said Zerbin. The Commercial Director of the SKD, Dirk Burghardt, however, had defended the restraint of the guards one day after the break-in. They would have decided because of the brutality of the burglars not to go to the scene, but to wait for the police.


In general, Zerbin sees "a certain naivety" in questions of security in museum management: security is still understood as a restriction on freedom, "but if art is not there, then I have no freedom to look at it". Times have changed and serious crime has increased, as shown by the theft of the "Big Maple Leaf" gold coin from the Bode Museum in Berlin in 2017.


"We are dealing with a very different kind of violence," Zerbin said. And the media attention in such cases is advertising for imitation acts. Museum managements therefore need to become more aware of their responsibility for security and not just make it dependent on money. "Excellent art needs excellent security concepts as well as security personnel with high deployment values."

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