'It's a Complete Catastrophe': Ancient Coins Stolen in Heist

Theft occurred at Germany's Celtic and Roman Museum
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2022 3:15 PM CST
'It's a Complete Catastrophe': Ancient Coins Stolen in Heist
Coins of the Celtic Treasure are on display at the local Celtic and Roman Museum in Manching, Germany, May 31, 2006.   (Frank Maechler/dpa via AP, file)

The Celtic and Roman Museum has lost its most precious treasure. The New York Times reports 483 ancient gold coins thought to be worth $1.7 million were on Tuesday morning discovered stolen from the museum, located in Manching, Germany. "It's a complete catastrophe," said mayor Herbert Nerb. "It's like in a bad movie." Indeed, the Times notes "the theft played out like the plot of a movie." Police say the thieves accessed a telecommunications room in the town and severed a cable, which the AFP reports killed phone and internet connections. A technician alerted police, but they figured banks were most vulnerable and sent patrols to those locations.

The AP reports that the museum's security system shows a door that was pried open was breached at 1:26am and that the thieves exited 9 minutes later, having smashed open the display cabinet in that time. Inside were the coins, which date to 100BC. The museum staff discovered the theft when they arrived shortly before 10am. Guido Limmer, the deputy head of Bavaria's State Criminal Police Office, sees "parallels" between the Manching art heist and two other high-profile thefts in Germany in recent years: a giant coin stolen in 2017 from the Bode museum and jewels taken from the Green Vault museum in 2019. The Times reports that while there were arrests in both cases, the treasure was never recovered.

"Whether there's a link we can't say," Limmer said. "Only this much: we are in touch with colleagues to investigate all possible angles." The coins were uncovered in 1999 at an ancient Celtic settlement called the Oppidum of Manchin. The coins, along with a chunk of unworked gold found with them, weigh nine pounds, and the head of the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich described his big fear: that they'll be melted down, which would reduce their value to some $250,000.

(Read more heist stories.)

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