The operation, coordinated by both police and prosecutors, was connected to the theft of 18th-century jewels from a unique collection in Dresden, Germany last November.
The treasures stolen from the Green Vault Museum included a large diamond brooch, a diamond epaulette, and several other jewels, which totaled an estimated $1 billion.
The Green Vault, one of the world’s oldest museums, was established in 1723 and contains the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony, holding around 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials.
A total of 1,638 police officers from Saxony, Berlin and several other states, alongside federal special police forces were involved in the search of a total of 18 places, including 10 apartments and also garages and vehicles. The focus was on Berlin’s Neukoelln district.
According to police and prosecutors in Dresden, the target of the search was “art treasures and possible evidence such as computer storage media, clothing and tools.”
The three suspected jewel thieves were identified only as German citizens with links to an Arab crime family based in the German capital. They were arrested on suspicion of organized robbery and arson.
A 500,000-euro ($593,000) reward was offered by authorities soon after the theft for information leading to the recovery of the jewels, or the arrest of the thieves.
In March, prosecutors and police determined that the Audi S6 used in the theft and later torched in a Dresden garage had been sold to an unidentified buyer in August of last year.
The investigators believed that the man who picked up the car from the seller in Magdeburg was connected to the break-in, and released a sketch of him to the public.
Authorities also said that the car may have been repainted prior to the break-in, which added to their suspicions that the theft was most likely planned well in advance.
Analysis by investigators, based partially on video footage, led to the conclusion that at least seven people were involved in the heist.