Solid gold coin worth millions stolen….. then melted.
But now police in Berlin say they may have finally recovered the solid Queen Elizabeth II coin – in the shape of a melted-down gold bar.
The coin, which was worth an estimated £3.3million and weighed 221lbs, was stolen from the Bode Museum in Berlin on 27 March.
The thieves were thought to have loaded the coin onto a wheelbarrow, and carted it out of the building and along the tracks of the nearby Spree river.
It’s believed the gang had an inside man at the museum, which allowed them to get past the coin’s bullet-proof glass casing.
Now German police have arrested four young men, aged between 18 and 20, after armed raids on an Arab mafia family – believed to be from Lebanon.
Armed officers in balaclavas raided a property in the Neukoelln area of Berlin, earlier in July.
One of the suspects is believed to be a former museum supervisor, and the others were linked to another Arab clan suspected of being involved with other thefts.
Berlin Police had complained that they had suffered several problems cooperating with Lebanese authorities to get more information about the family.
Prosecutor Martina Lamb described how she believed the men had, with the help of someone who worked at the museum, used a ladder, wheelbarrow and rope to extract the coin and escape with it.
Police have also said they believed the robbers had broken in through a window at the museum.
The coin, 53 centimetres (20 inches)in diameter and 3 centimetres thick, even made it into the Guinness Book of Records for its unrivalled degree of purity. It was lent to the Bode Museum in December 2010.
Carsten Pfohl, of the regional crime office, said: ‘Unfortunately, we assume that it has been at least partly, if not completely, broken down.’
One police source said criminals may have added copper while melting down the gold, so as to completely obscure its traces.
The Bode has one of the world’s largest coin collections with more than 540,000 items.