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German police arrest 2 suspects in brazen gold coin heist

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/12/2017 By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press
FILE - The Dec. 8, 2010 photo shows the 'Big Maple Leaf' coin in the Bode Museum in Berlin. Special police units in Germany have raided several homes in Berlin on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 in connection with a 100-kilogram (221-pound) gold coin stolen from the museum. (Marcel Mettelsiefen/dpa via AP) © The Associated Press FILE - The Dec. 8, 2010 photo shows the 'Big Maple Leaf' coin in the Bode Museum in Berlin. Special police units in Germany have raided several homes in Berlin on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 in connection with a 100-kilogram (221-pound) gold coin stolen from the museum. (Marcel Mettelsiefen/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — German special police units raided several homes in Berlin early Wednesday in connection with the brazen heist of a 100-kilogram (221-pound) Canadian gold coin stolen from one of the city's most famous museums earlier this year.

A man is lead away by police officers in Berlin Wednesday, July 12, 2017, after special police units have raided several homes in connection with a 100-kilogram (221-pound) gold coin stolen from a city museum. The "Big Maple Leaf" coin, worth several million euros (dollars), was stolen in a spectacular heist from Berlin's Bode museum in March. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP) © The Associated Press A man is lead away by police officers in Berlin Wednesday, July 12, 2017, after special police units have raided several homes in connection with a 100-kilogram (221-pound) gold coin stolen from a city museum. The "Big Maple Leaf" coin, worth several million euros (dollars), was stolen in a spectacular heist from Berlin's Bode museum in March. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

Heavily-armed masked police arrested at least two suspects, one wearing a hood over his head, during early morning raids in the city's Neukoelln neighborhood.

Masked police stand outside a house in Berlin Wednesday, July 12, 2017, after special police units have raided several homes in connection with a 100-kilogram (221-pound) gold coin stolen from a city museum. The "Big Maple Leaf" coin, worth several million euros (dollars), was stolen in a spectacular heist from Berlin's Bode museum in March. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP) © The Associated Press Masked police stand outside a house in Berlin Wednesday, July 12, 2017, after special police units have raided several homes in connection with a 100-kilogram (221-pound) gold coin stolen from a city museum. The "Big Maple Leaf" coin, worth several million euros (dollars), was stolen in a spectacular heist from Berlin's Bode museum in March. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

"We assume that the two suspects match the ones seen on the video footage from surveillance cameras" during the burglary, police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel told The Associated Press.

He said searches of the apartments were still continuing, but so far the coin hadn't been found. Experts think the coin may have been melted down to cash in on the gold, Wenzel added.

The Canadian "Big Maple Leaf" coin, worth several million euros (dollars), was stolen from the Bode museum in March.

At least two burglars broke into the museum at night, using a ladder to climb to a window from elevated railway tracks. They grabbed the coin, loaded it onto a wheelbarrow and then carted it out of the building and along the tracks across the Spree river before descending into a park on a rope and fleeing in a getaway car.

In July, police published still photos made from surveillance video asking the public for help in finding the thieves.

Police say the three-centimeter (1.2-inch) thick coin, with a diameter of 53 centimeters (20.9 inches) has a face value of 1 million Canadian dollars ($750,000). By weight alone, however, it would be worth almost $4.5 million at market prices. The coin was likely damaged in the theft.

The coin, which has an image of Queen Elizabeth II on one side, was on loan from a private, unidentified person, the German news agency dpa reported. There are maple leaves on the back of the coin. It's one of only five that were made by the Royal Canadian Mint.

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