Police suspect organized crime after horde of Celtic gold coins stolen in Manching, Germany

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Thieves who broke into a southern German museum and stole hundreds of ancient gold coins were in and out in nine minutes without raising an alarm, authorities said Wednesday, in yet another sign the theft was the work of organized crime.

Police have launched an international search for the thieves and their loot, consisting of 483 Celtic coins and a lump of raw gold that were discovered during an archaeological dig near the present-day city of Manching in 1999.

Guido Limmer, deputy head of the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, described how at 1:17 a.m. (0017 GMT) on Tuesday, the cables were cut at a telecommunications center about one kilometer (less than a mile) from the Celtic Museum. and Roman in Manching. , leaving the region’s communications networks out of service.

Museum security systems recorded a door being opened at 1:26 a.m. and then the thieves leaving again at 1:35 a.m., Limmer said. It was in those nine minutes that the culprits had to break a showcase and remove the treasure.

Limmer said there were “parallels” between the Manching mugging and the priceless jewelery robbery in Dresden Y a big gold coin in berlin in recent years. both have been blamed a Berlin-based crime family.

“We cannot say if there is a link,” he added. “Just this: we are in contact with colleagues to investigate all possible angles.”

Bavaria’s science and arts minister Markus Blume said the evidence pointed to the work of professionals.

“It’s clear that you don’t just walk into a museum and take this treasure with you,” he told public broadcaster BR. “It is very secure and, as such, there is a suspicion that we are dealing with a case of organized crime.”

The authorities acknowledged, however, that there was no guard at the museum overnight.

An alarm system was deemed to provide sufficient security, said Rupert Gebhard, who heads the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich.

Gebhard said the treasure was of great value both to the local Manching community and to archaeologists across Europe.

Bowl-shaped coins, dating to around 100 B.C. C., were made with gold from the Bohemian river and show how the Celtic settlement at Manching had links across Europe, he said.

Gebhard estimated the value of the treasure at about 1.6 million euros ($1.65 million).

“Archaeologists hope that the coins will remain in their original state and will turn up again at some point,” he said, adding that they are well documented and would be hard to sell.

“The worst option, the merger, would mean a complete loss for us,” he said, noting that the material value of the gold itself would only amount to about 250,000 euros at current market prices.

Gebhard said the size of the treasure suggested it might have been “a tribal chief’s war chest.” It was found inside a sack buried under the foundation of a building, and was the largest discovery made during regular archaeological excavations in Germany in the 20th century.

Limmer, the deputy police chief, said Interpol and Europol have already been alerted to the theft of coins and a 20-member special investigations unit has been set up, codenamed ‘Oppidum’ after the Latin term for a settlement. Celtic, to track down the culprits. .

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