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Jewellery, artifacts worth US$1.1b stolen from German museum

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Police Forensics officers investigate the area near the Dresden Castle after thieves made off with jewellery and artifacts worth a reported US$1.1 billion after an early-morning burglary.

[LONDON] Thieves made off with jewellery and artifacts worth a reported US$1.1 billion after an early-morning burglary at a German museum.

The robbers stole three sets of jewellery from Dresden's Grunes Gewolbe - or Green Vault - after entering through a window just before 5 am local time Monday, Joerg Kubiessa, the head of Dresden's police, told reporters. The thieves escaped and remain at large.

Germany has had its share of heists in recent years. In 2017, burglars stole a 100kg solid gold coin worth US$4 million from Berlin's Bode Museum. The coin, which is as big as a car tire, is still missing.

The Grunes Gewolbe held 3,000 individual objects, including jewels and objects made of gold, crystal and diamonds collected by Augustus the Strong, a 17th-century ruler of the kingdom of Saxony, which included Dresden.

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The stolen jewellery is "unique in Europe," said Dirk Syndram, the director of the Grunes Gewolbe. "It's a world cultural heritage."

They include ensembles of diamonds that are of "priceless art-historic value," said Marion Ackermann, the head of Dresden's state art collection. She declined to give a financial value, saying that it was impossible to estimate.

Germany's Bild newspaper reported that the antique jewelry was worth about US$1.1 billion without saying where it got the estimate.

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