Berlin (dpa) – Three men were handed jail sentences on Thursday for the spectacular March 2017 theft of a 100-kilogram gold coin from the Bode Museum in the centre of Berlin.
A fourth person was found not guilty by the court in the German capital.
Two of the men, cousins now aged 23 and 21, received sentences under youth crime provisions of four and a half years.
The court found that they were both members of a well-known Arab criminal gang. They are both German citizens.
A 21-year-old museum security guard, also a German citizen, was handed a sentence of three years and four months.
The men, sporting neat haircuts, heard the sentence without showing emotion.
The two main accused, who have been linked to previous crimes, were also sentenced to repay 3.3 million euros (3.6 million dollars), representing the value of the coin as pure gold.
The security guard, a close friend of the younger of the main accused, is to repay 100,000 euros, amounting to his share of the loot, although he was not present during the actual heist.
Security footage showed three people using a ladder to enter through the museum’s sole unprotected window, smashing the security glass on a display case and then rolling the giant coin away in a wheelbarrow to a car.
The timing was carefully chosen. The coin was due to be moved the next day to a different display.
The huge coin was probably divided up, melted down and sold, Judge Dorothee Pruefer said, with the clan arranging its conversion into cash.
Gold particles and filings were found in cars used by the clan and on clothing.
“So young and already a millionaire,” the 21-year-old is reported to have boasted.
New tools were used during the break-in to ensure there were no traces from earlier use. “The family is not totally inexperienced,” Pruefer commented. Nevertheless, traces of DNA were found on a rope.
The GdP police trade union criticized the sentences as too lenient. The court had failed to send out a clear message, GdP Berlin head Norbert Cioma said.
The Bode Museum lies on Berlin’s famous Museum Island, along with many other landmark tourist attractions. It is surrounded by water from the River Spree, and connected to the rest of the city by bridges and train tracks.
The coin – one of five such minted by Canada, each carrying an image of Queen Elizabeth II – went missing from the museum on the night of March 27, 2017.
Named “Big Maple Leaf,” it had a diameter of 53 centimetres and was 3 centimetres thick.