A police officer mans a cordon outside the Green Vault museum in Dresden, eastern Germany – Image: Reuters

Up to a billion euros’ worth of treasure was stolen in a raid on a German museum this past weekend.

Mail Online reports the Green Vault in Dresden was targeted by thieves who broke into the building in the early morning hours when thieves switched off a power supply at 5am before breaking through a window into a museum which once boasted it was ‘as secure as Fort Knox’, it is believed.

According to Bild, they stole jewellery and diamonds which may have been worth up to a billion euros (£850million), although police are yet to reveal exactly what was taken.

“The burglars escaped in a saloon car and remain at large after raiding one of Europe’s largest collections of treasures.

“However, it is hoped that surveillance cameras may have captured them on video despite the electrical failure…It is believed that the blaze may be connected to the attack on the power supply”.

“Shutting off the electricity may have helped the burglars to disable the museum’s alarm systems, it is feared.”

A police officer wearing gloves and a mask works at the crime scene – Image: Reuters

Reports in Germany say the thieves were ‘noticeably small’ and able to fit through a tiny space in a window.

“Authorities have yet to reveal exactly which items have been stolen or confirm the value of the stolen goods.

“Saxony police acknowledged in a statement that ‘unknown’ thieves had broken inside the museum but said further details were not yet available.

“State police officers are now at the crime scene as they investigate how the thieves got inside.”

A notice on the museum’s website said the building was closed for “organisational reasons”.

“A €1billion art theft would be comfortably the largest in history, surpassing the $500million raid on the Gardner Museum in Boston nearly 30 years ago.

“The Dresden museum was founded by Augustus the Strong, an 18th-century elector of Saxony, and houses thousands of items including historic coins and jewellery.

“However, one of its most valuable treasures – a 41-carat naturally green diamond called the Dresden Green – is currently out on loan in New York,” the report added.

“The museum also houses include a 25-inch figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 648-carat sapphire gifted by Tsar Peter I of Russia. It is unknown whether either of these were stolen.

“Other valuable items include a jewel-studded model of riches belonging to Aurangzeb, a ruler of Mughal India.

“In 2010, then-museum director Martin Roth boasted in an interview with Die Welt that the Green Vault was ‘as secure as Fort Knox’.

“The vault was protected by ‘invisible’ security systems, but warned that the biggest danger was information leaking out from inside.

“The collection dates back to 1723, while the Dresden royal palace which houses it was first built in 1533 as the home for the electors and later kings of Saxony.

“The Green Vault gets its name from the green-coloured columns and decoration in some of the rooms.

“Only part of the collection was on display during the Cold War, when Dresden was part of communist East Germany.

“However, the museum was extensively rebuilt in the 2000s and its two exhibitions now form one of the ‘best-preserved treasuries in Europe’, its website says.

“Angela Merkel hosted then-US President Barack Obama there in 2009 during his early months in office.

“In 2017, a 220lb gold coin the size of a manhole cover was stolen from a Berlin museum and is feared to have been melted down.

“Prosecutors allege that the burglars broke into the museum through an upstairs window and used a ladder, wheelbarrow and rope to extract the coin. A trial remains underway.”