Green Vault Museum, Dresden.

Dresden’s Green Vault Museum has been burgled in what law enforcement agencies are calling the largest jewel theft since WW2.

Burglars cut power, tore a window grille from the building and ignored CCTV cameras and the alarm system – video footage shows 2 hooded figures smashing open the glass case containing jewels with an axe before fleeing.

Police arrived quickly after the alarm activation, but the burglars had made their getaway with at least 3 sets of early 18th-century Baroque jewellery, intricate diamond and ruby brooches, buttons, buckles and other items.

Green Vault director Dirk Syndram said the museum’s collections had “invaluable cultural value” – particularly their completeness.

“Nowhere in any other collection in Europe have jewels or sets of jewels been preserved in this form and quantity,” he said. “The value is really in the ensemble.”

Meanwhile, Bild newspaper said a nearby electricity junction box had been set on fire before the raid, cutting power to the whole area. Backup battery support allowed the security solution to activate intrusion alarms and record the event.

The museum displays part of the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony, which includes 4000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials. Fortunately, one of the museum’s most famous and precious treasures, the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond, along with other valuable pieces, was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The burglary highlights the importance of layered security solutions with robust physical security and electronic security measures working together to deliver faster response times and longer delays during intrusion attempts.