Dresden manhunt underway after castle vault treasure heist

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT) November 26, 2019
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8:22 a.m. ET, November 25, 2019

How the heist unfolded

From CNN’s Stephanie Halasz

Dresden police have released a timeline of what they call an “attack” on the Green Vault museum. 

Police president Jörg Kubiessa said the heist took place in the very early hours of Monday morning.

Here's what they know:

4.59 a.m. (10:59 p.m. ET) Police receive a call that a break-in is taking place. 

5:04 a.m (11.04 p.m. ET) The first police car is dispatched.

5:05 a.m. (11:05 p.m. ET) Authorities receive their first tip regarding a vehicle possibly involved in the heist.

5:09 a.m. (11:09 p.m. ET) The Theater Square (Theaterplatz) area experiences a power outage. Police could not confirm if the power cut is related. 

5:22 a.m. (11:22 p.m. ET) The federal police is notified

Dresden Police’s Chief Criminal Director Volker Lange said: “Two suspects were seen on CCTV. The suspects came in through a window, and walked towards a glass vitrine, smashed it and left, they disappeared.”

8:19 a.m. ET, November 25, 2019

Thieves steal priceless treasures from Dresden's Green Vault museum 

From CNN's Bianca Britton and Stephanie Halasz

The Jewel Room, one of the rooms in the historic Green Vault at the Royal Palace in Dresden.
The Jewel Room, one of the rooms in the historic Green Vault at the Royal Palace in Dresden.

One of Europe's largest collections of treasures was targeted in a brazen heist on Monday when thieves attacked a castle vault in the German city of Dresden.

Several criminals gained access to the Green Vault in Dresden Castle on Monday, according to Roland Woeller, a local politician. He said the perpetrators had stolen artifacts of "immeasurable value."

"This is an attack on the cultural identity of all Saxons and the state of Saxony," Woeller added. State Police also confirmed the break-in.

The vault features an astounding collection of historical jewelry and precious ornaments -- from shimmering bowls carved out of crystal and agate to jeweled gold figurines and goblets fashioned from gilded ostrich eggs.

Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer tweeted that the heist meant all Saxons had been "robbed."

"The valuables found here have been hard-won by the people of our Free State for many centuries," Kretschmer wrote.

The collection was established in the early 18th century by Augustus the Strong, ruler of Saxony. He worked to establish Dresden as a major center for the arts, inviting talented sculptors, goldsmiths and painters to take up residence and commissioned a series of magnificent rooms to showcase his valuables as a way of advertising the city's cultural prominence in addition to its wealth.

The museum said it was closed Monday due to "organizational reasons" and a special police commission has been established following the heist.