A museum worker who stole 643 historical coins worth over half a million GBP from a valuable collection and sold them online has escaped prison.
The 50-year-old man, whose identity was not reported, was found guilty of stealing 643 historical coins from the Museum of City History in Leipzig, a city in the eastern German state of Saxony.
The man, who worked as a museum bookbinder, sold the stolen coins worth 586,870 EUR (503,455 GBP) online. It is unclear what total price he received for their illegal sale.
Chief prosecutor Ricardo Schulz said: “The defendant was convicted of theft.”
He added: “He was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended over a period of three years.
“In addition, he was ordered to pay back a low five-digit sum to the treasury.”
Bizarrely, the thefts, which took place between 2012 and 2016, were never noticed by anyone at the museum until a coin collector alerted the director.
The collector said that he was offered some unique coins over the internet, but he knew that the Leipzig coins were part of the museum’s collection.
He then informed the museum director who ordered a probe which confirmed that 643 coins had gone missing.
In 2010, the coins had been catalogued and placed in the museum’s archive because they were not needed for an exhibition.
The museum realised that the thief was very knowledgeable because only the most expensive coins had gone missing.
It was not long before investigators suspected the 50-year-old bookbinder, who reportedly liked working late evening shifts at the museum.
So far, only 235 of the 643 coins have been tracked down.
According to reports, 184 were sold over eBay while 51 were sold directly to traders.
The 51 coins, worth around 82,872 EUR (71,065 GBP), have not been recovered yet and negotiations with the owners are ongoing.
Of the coins sold over eBay, only 41 have so far been returned.