Solid gold coin worth $4m stolen from Berlin museum

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A giant gold coin bearing the Queen's image, and worth $4m (£3.2m), has been stolen from a museum in Germany.

The Canadian coin, nicknamed the "big maple leaf", has a face value of $1m - but because it is 100kg (220lb) of pure 24-carat gold, its value is much higher at today's price for gold bullion.

It was taken during the night from the Bode Museum in Berlin.

It is not clear how the thieves evaded the alarm system or carried the heavy, half-metre (20.9 in) coin away.

The theft is believed to have happened at around 03:30 Monday morning (01:30 GMT).

The coin is thought to be too heavy for a single person to carry, and police believe the thieves entered through a window.

A ladder was found on the train tracks nearby.

"Based on the information we have so far we believe that the thief, maybe thieves, broke open a window in the back of the museum next to the railway tracks," police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel told Reuters news agency. "They then managed to enter the building and went to the coin exhibition."

"The coin was secured with bullet-proof glass inside the building. That much I can say," he added - but refused to discuss details about security staff or the alarm system.

The coin was minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007.

It is 3cm (1.18in) thick, 53cm in diameter, and carries a likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on one side, as Canada's head of state.

The other side shows the Canadian national symbol, the maple leaf.

The coin cabinet at the Bode Museum holds more than 540,000 objects, but German media report only the "big maple leaf" was stolen.

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