March 28 (UPI) -- Police in Germany said they are searching for thieves who stole a 21-inch diameter gold coin with a gold content value of more than $4 million from Berlin's Bode Museum.
The massive commemorative coin, minted in Canada and featuring a likeness of Queen Elizabeth II, was missing on Monday morning. Museum security staff noticed the coin, referred to as the "Big Maple Leaf," was missing from its display case.
The coin was the only item believed taken from the museum in a pre-dawn heist. Police said an abandoned ladder found on nearby rail tracks may be a clue. Investigators have not revealed their theories regarding how thieves entered the museum without tripping alarms and made off with an artifact installed behind bulletproof glass and too heavy for a single person to carry.
The coin weighs 220 pounds, is more than 1 inch thick and is valued by the museum at nearly $1 million, although its gold content places its market price at more than $4 million. The purity of its gold, rated at 999.00/1000, put it in the Guinness book of World Records.
Museum director Michael Eissenhauer said in a statement Monday, "A theft is for a museum director among the worst news of all. We are shocked that the burglars have overcome our security systems, which have been successfully protecting our objects for many years. The perpetrators have done a great deal of violence and we are glad that no personal injury has occurred. Now we hope that the perpetrators will be caught and the precious coin will return undamaged to the coin cabinet of the Bode Museum."
The coin, on display since 2010, is the prime exhibit in a museum which includes more than half a million artifacts, largely coins from various countries and eras.