Police officers carry items seized during a raid in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday linked to the Green Vault burglary a year ago at the Dresden Castle. Three suspects were also arrested. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA-EFE
Nov. 17 (UPI) -- German authorities say they arrested three people Tuesday in connection with a daring heist a year ago that netted the crooks $1 billion worth of rare jewels from a museum.
Prosecutors charged the suspects with aggravated gang theft and arson. Government attorneys argue that the trio were the ones who broke into the Grünes Gewölbe, or Green Vault, of the 500-year-old Dresden Castle museum on Nov. 25, 2019 -- and shattered a display case to steal an assortment of jewels.
Police believe a fire at a nearby electricity junction was deliberately set to disable the museum's alarm. The theft was captured by the museum's surveillance cameras.
Dresden police say the three suspects are believed to be German citizens and may be linked to an Arab crime family based in Berlin.
Authorities had formed a special commission to investigate the heist, but the stolen jewels have not yet been found.
"You would have to be very lucky to find them a year after the crime," Dresden police spokesman Thomas Geithner said. "Hope dies last."
The stolen gems, which date back to the 18th century and include diamond-encrusted items, were estimated to be worth $1 billion. Dresden State Art Collections Director Marion Ackermann said they also have "inestimable art and cultural-historical value."
"[The focus remains on] the search for the stolen art treasures and possible evidence such as storage media, clothing and tools," Saxony State Police tweeted.
Authorities believe there are two other people who participated in the heist who have not yet been caught.