GIt took the perpetrators just one hour and four minutes on the night of November 22 to steal the gold treasure from the Celtic Roman Museum in Manching, Bavaria. Two crime scenes were important in order to get the 483 coins and a so-called gold cake, which date from around 100 BC. First, at 12:31 a.m., the cables were severed at a Telekom fiber optic distribution point in Manching. As a result, thousands of residents were without telephones and internet – and the museum without an alarm system. Because the radio transmission of the alarm signal to the responsible security company was disrupted, as the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office announced on Thursday about the status of the investigation.
After the cables were severed, the perpetrators drove the three-minute journey to the museum and forcibly opened the front door. It was now 1:26 am. Four minutes later, at 1:30 a.m., the thieves also used force to open the inner door. 1.31 a.m .: The perpetrators smashed the glass case with the coins embedded in the floor. They also smashed a display case and took three more gold coins with them. 1.35 a.m .: The perpetrators left the museum with the most valuable exhibit in the exhibition through the front door.
Melted down or from a private collector?
What happened to the coins afterwards, which are worth around two million euros, is uncertain. One can speculate about two options: perhaps a private collector commissioned the theft in order to exhibit the coins in his basement for private art enjoyment. Because the coins can hardly be sold. Or the thieves melted down the Celtic treasure directly: for an estimated gold value of around 200,000 to 250,000 euros.
The LKA assures that everything will be done to identify the perpetrators and “to get the valuable gold treasure back”. The investigations are being conducted by the public prosecutor’s office in Ingolstadt and 25 criminalists from the LKA’s Oppidum special commission. The special commission is named after the large settlement of Manching, founded by Celts around 300 BC, on whose premises the coins were found in 1999.
The security systems are now being checked
One of the many unanswered questions revolves around the alarm system. How conscientiously did the commissioned guard and security company work? The LKA says that the company did not notice “the interruption of the alarm system”. But if the radio signal was interrupted, the company should have received a “fault report”. According to the LKA, why the cut connection to the alarm system was not noticed is “the subject of further investigations”.
In addition, the LKA makes it clear: the police authority is responsible for “safety-related prevention and object advice” at state museums and thus also for the Celts-Roman Museum Manching, which is a branch of the Archaeological State Collection. But whether the contractually agreed services of the security company would actually be fulfilled is not “the subject of the police advice”.
The LKA had already advised the museum in the planning phase from 2002, further consultation appointments followed, most recently in 2020. However, the LKA emphasizes that the consultations were “only of a recommendation nature”. The decision as to whether the recommendations of the police would also be implemented “is the responsibility of the respective operators”. In addition, the LKA also “basically has no influence on the drafting of contracts with a commissioned security company”. A working group of the museum, supported by the LKA, is now to check the existing security systems and assess whether “modifications” are necessary.
No pictures from the day of the crime – or the weeks before
However, the museum not only had an alarm system, but also a video system. The video server and the hard drives were examined in the forensic institute of the LKA. However, due to the age of the camera system, according to the LKA, the hard drives could only be evaluated by a specialist company. The result: “There are no pictures from the day of the crime on the secured hard drives.” But according to the LKA, there are also no pictures from the weeks before. They might have given clues as to whether some visitors were particularly interested in the showcase. Why the museum has a video system, but no recordings can be accessed – this is also one of the questions that the LKA is investigating. It could be due to the outdated system, they say.
However, items that could point to the crime have only just been found by police divers. On Tuesday and Wednesday they searched the Paar River and nearby ponds. Among other things, they found two crowbars and an ammeter, which are now being forensically examined.
The police are also continuing to ask for information from the public: Anyone who provides the crucial information that leads to the perpetrators will be rewarded with 20,000 euros.