Police raided an internet café and a private residence in Berlin last week as part of a high-profile investigation into a notorious jewelry heist in Dresden last year. The antique diamonds, deemed “priceless” due to their cultural significance, were taken from the city’s Green Vault in an audacious heist on November 25, and there have been few public developments in the case in the nine months since.
Dresden’s public prosecutor’s office ordered the raids on two residential and commercial premises in Berlin on September 2. Seven investigators from the “Epaulette” special commission—named after some of the stolen diamonds—searched an apartment and an internet café with support from three officers working in Berlin’s art crime squad and a hundred riot police.
The raids were carried out in connection with a man who has been selling mobile phone SIM cards registered with fictional personal information. Investigators suspect that the man, who has yet to be named publicly, either sold several SIM cards to the thieves directly or provided them to the internet café on Hermannstrasse in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood. The criminals communicated through the SIM cards to plan and carry out the heist.
The prosecutor’s office tells Artnet News that there are no new suspects in the case, and that the SIM card salesman has not yet been listed as a suspect as it is unclear whether he knew how the SIM cards would be used.
Potential evidence including business documents, cell phones, and storage devices were confiscated during the searches, but the prosecutor’s office declined to share further developments in the case before this evidence has been carefully assessed.
“The prosecutor is still confident to find the suspects and to bring them to justice,” a spokesman for the Dresden office tells Artnet News. “The prosecutor is also confident to be able to recover the stolen jewelry.”
The investigation is ongoing with few hot leads since last November, when a group of intruders broke into the Green Vault, one of the largest collections of Baroque treasures in Europe, through a small window. They smashed the glass vitrines and made off with 10 pieces of diamond-encrusted jewelry that were so priceless they could not be insured. Officials are offering a €500,000 ($571,517) reward for information that leads to the recovery of the stolen items.