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Crime solved after 17 yearsGold Rolex watch leads to brutal robbers

With the help of a retired watchmaker from Frankfurt am Main, the CID in Eschwege were able solve a much publicised armed robbery on a businessman in Königstein that took place in June 1994.

The victim, an estate agent, was overpowered in the early evening of the 14th of June 1994 in front of his office by three unknown and armed villains. The assailants dragged him into his office, tied him up and held him prisoner for over four hours. As well as this, the villains also hit and kicked their victim in order to add weight to their demands. In the meantime, three of the culprits left the scene of the crime for two hours using the Mercedes SL belonging to the victim, deciding to search the victim's flat, which was a few kilometres away. The robbers then proceeded to steal 20,000 DM in cash, a valuable ring, a gold Rolex watch, as well as a Mercedes SL to the value of 60,000 DM. The car was later recovered.

CID inquiries into the crime remained fruitless. The clues they had found and the detailed phantom drawings of three culprits which were made with the help of the victim did not lead to the identification of the robbers. Several public requests for information in the press brought no other useful leads.

Then, in autumn 2009, the Eschwege CID in Witzenhausen confiscated a gold Rolex watch as part of the preliminary investigation into the suspected murder of Hermann Varnhorn, reported missing since the 18th of December 1992. The owner of the Rolex named three people from whom he had received the watch in 1994. The offenders included a 53 year-old man from Eschwege, as well as two Polish nationals who were reported to have been of no fixed abode in the Witzenhausen area at that time. One problem was that the Rolex was no longer traceable within the police data system. There was no documentation stating from where the watch originated. What was certain was that, as there was no documented criminal offence, there could be no accusation of the three suspects.

The last hope rested on two engravings on the lid inside the watch which were made on the occasion of two repairs. Intensive inquiries led to the discovery that the marks were indeed made by a Frankfurt-based jeweller who had undertaken repairs to the watch in 1992. Unfortunately, there were no files or information in existence from this period which pointed to the identity of the legal owner of the watch. Just as the enquiries seemed to be coming to an unproductive end, a retired watchmaker contacted the Eschwege CID. At that time apparently, the man had worked in the aforementioned Frankfurt watchmaker's, and had been informed regarding the enquiries. He told the police that he was in possession of an old company computer which was stored in his cellar on which he could find the repair number of the Eschwege Rolex. The customer who had presented the Rolex, a "Daydate" model, had been a businessman from Königstein in the Taunus. As a result, the estate agent, who had been identified by the Eschwege CID, confirmed that he had been robbed in June 1994. One of his items that were missing was this very Rolex. He was amazed, surprised and grateful that his watch was now in the safekeeping of the police. As a result of this, the case against the trio of robbers was re-examined by the police in Eschwege, together with the Polish authorities, and an arrest warrant was issued for all three of the villains.

On Tuesday of this week, the case was finally brought before the 30th criminal division of the District Court of Frankfurt am Main. Three defendants filed confessions on account of the overwhelming evidence. Primarily due to the lengthy intervening period of 17 years, the court accepted a lenient view of the crime in the case of the aggravated robbery, extortion and kidnapping, which led to a conviction of 4 years and 6 months, and 2 years on probation, held over for a period of three years.