German Police Arrest 4 in Brazen Gold Coin Heist in Berlin

An Austrian art forwarding company holding one of the world's largest gold coins a 2007 Canadian $ 1,000,000

Police arrested four men today on suspicion of stealing a 100kg solid gold coin the size of a auto tyre from a Berlin museum.

The Canadian coin with the picture of Queen Elizabeth II has a face value of 1 million US dollars.

Around 300 police took part in dawn raids on two apartments and a jeweler's shop in Berlin's Neukoelln district and locations in surrounding Brandenburg state.

Masked police guard a house in Berlin on Wednesday after raids on several properties in connection with the gold coin heist. All suspects are related to one another and aged between 18 and 20, police said.

The investigators found a deep impact mark below the tracks, suggesting that the coin was dropped and likely damaged.

"Unfortunately, we assume that it has been at least partly, if not completely, broken down", said Carsten Pfohl of the regional crime office.

The theft of the Canadian commemorative coin, whose material value is estimated at nearly €3.8m, had stunned Berliners due to the seeming simplicity of the robbers' plan.

Police believe the thieves broke into the museum from an elevated section of tram tracks, using a ladder to enter undetected.

As well as making the arrests on Wednesday morning, police seized a vehicle where a balaclava and knife were found.

According to the police representative, there was first evidence that the coin, named "Big Maple Leaf" could have been melted down in the jeweler's store that was searched.

"It is 100 kilos, made by the Canadian Mint, and is of high purity", Bernhard Weisser, director of the museum's coin department, said in an interview.

In July, police published still photos made from surveillance video asking the public for help in finding the thieves.

It was probably damaged when the thieves dropped it twice - once onto rail tracks that pass the museum and cross the Spree river, and again in Monbijou park on the opposite river bank, from where they sped off in a auto.

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