The raid on Dresden's Green Vault early Monday took just a few minutes, authorities say—but it was long enough for the thieves to make off with jewelry believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Surveillance video released Monday shows two thieves using an axe to break into a display case at the museum, which houses one of Europe's most extensive collections of royal treasure, NBC reports. Authorities say the thieves stole around 100 pieces of jewelry from the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony. They targeted three sets of jewelry, although they ended up leaving some pieces behind because they had been sewn into the display cabinet's surface.
Green Vault director Dirk Syndram says the jewelry, which could be very difficult for the thieves to sell, has "invaluable cultural value," the AP reports. "Nowhere in any other collection in Europe have jewels or sets of jewels been preserved in this form and quantity,” he says. “The value is really in the ensemble." Police believe a fire at a nearby electrical junction box, which knocked out power to streetlights in front of a ground-floor window, was linked to the heist. They say officers were at the scene within minutes, but the thieves had already fled. Some of the museum's most valuable treasures, including the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond, were on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Read more jewel heists stories.)