The stolen pieces included a breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle, a jeweled sword and an ornate helmet encrusted with 4,300 diamonds. Officials fear that some items may not be recovered.
WATCH: The moment some of Europe’s most valuable jewels were stolen
The five men, all in their 20s, were sentenced to four to six years in prison on Tuesday. A Dresden regional court found them guilty of “particularly serious arson”, dangerous bodily harm, robbery with weapons, property damage and “intentional arson” to cover up a criminal offence. A sixth defendant and family member was acquitted after providing an alibi.
In January, the defense, prosecution and court reached a plea deal after most of the jewels were returned by late 2022. Two of the five defendants are already serving sentences for stealing a large gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017. A daring theft that rocked the museum world. The coin was not recovered.
Closed-circuit TV footage released a day after the heinous theft showed how the museum and the neighboring area were plunged into darkness after thieves set fire to a circuit breaker near the museum.
They then entered the building through a window. Prosecutors said he had tampered with the window bars before the robbery and reattached them to gain quick access.
Within five minutes, they smashed a scene with an ax and drove off with 21 items covered in thousands of jewels. The vehicle was later set on fire in an underground parking lot.
Dozens are still wanted in connection with the elaborate heist. Officials said that 40 people may have been involved.
Barbara Klepch, the regional culture minister of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, expressed gratitude on Tuesday that investigators were able to secure much of the stolen jewelry.
“Part of the injury to our exchequer has been redressed and the culprits have been duly punished,” he said.
The minister also said security measures had been adjusted as a result of the theft, which highlighted deficiencies in security at one of Europe’s oldest museums.
The eastern state of Saxony has claimed nearly 89 million euros in damages for the stolen goods and damage caused by the break-in.
The stolen jewels were part of a collection amassed by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony in the 18th century. In 1723, Augustus opened Dresden’s Green Vault to display his treasure. Located in Dresden’s Royal Palace, the museum was closed for decades after suffering extensive damage during World War II. It was restored and reopened in 2006.