In a spectacular burglary coup in Emmerich on the Lower Rhine, four men robbed around 6.5 million euros. The perpetrators escaped, so far there is no lead
A spectacular burglary coup like in a movie: On All Saints’ Sunday, unknown persons broke through the wall of the secure storage room in the basement of the customs office in Emmerich, North Rhine-Westphalia, with a core drill.
“The procedure was highly professional”, said the responsible senior public prosecutor of Kleve, Günter Neifer, to the German Press Agency. However, he added, it was now also necessary to investigate whether there had been a leak at customs or the police. “That was my first thought: someone must have tipped them off,” said Neifer. “Now the investigation is underway: Who exactly knew about the money. This is now part of our homework.”
According to the investigations so far, three perpetrators had pry open a cellar door of the customs office early in the morning and set the core drill in the cellar to get to the loot. They obviously carried the money out of the vault in several “safe-bags”. A fourth man probably stood outside as a lookout. So far there is no hot lead from the perpetrators.
Witnesses had heard drilling noises on November 1 around 6 a.m. and noticed around 10:45 a.m. how three dark-dressed men with dark knitted caps left the building several times to load a white van with a sliding door. They then drove away in a vehicle with Kleve license plates. Later, the fourth suspect also drove away in a car in the same direction as the van.
A witness photographed this fourth man because he had been conspicuously running up and down in front of the customs office. The photo was released by the authorities on Wednesday. It shows a tall, strong man with dark clothes and a knitted cap. The customs authorities offered an unusually high reward of 100,000 euros for information about the perpetrators. An “Investigation Team Kern” was set up at the police in Krefeld.
Why so much money was stored in a customs branch office over the holiday, the public prosecutor and a spokesman for the main customs office in Duisburg did not want to comment on Wednesday. “On the agenda” this was probably not the case, said the NRW state chairman of the German police union Erich Rettinghaus. At least the police are trying to bring confiscated goods quickly to the headquarters where they can be stored more safely.
Rettinghaus could also not completely dismiss the idea of a mole in the police or customs: “The suspicion of a certain insider knowledge is already obvious,” he said.
The millions are to a considerable extent money confiscated in German-Dutch border traffic, as Neifer said. Emmerich is in the immediate vicinity of the border, and the Kleve public prosecutor’s office is responsible for offences in the border area. These could be drug money, black money, or for other reasons suspicious large sums of cash, the senior public prosecutor reported.
The fact that the vault had a massive steel door with several locking bolts in the wall, as Neifer reported, did not stop the perpetrators. But the investigators now hoped for clues from witnesses and reactions to the police shots. The police had already reported on the break-in several times, but the amount of the loot and the spectacular course of the crime was not announced until Wednesday, when the police shots were published.