A.n that Saturday in November 2019, the Ikea department store in Frankfurt-Nieder-Eschbach was well attended. The Christmas business had started. When the police approached and blocked a side entrance, many still thought that an accident might have happened. What else should happen in broad daylight on the edge of an Ikea parking lot? But then came the forensic investigation. The officers examined a money truck that was parked in front of the building. He had a bullet hole. Slowly what had happened seeped through.
A man had ambushed the 56-year-old messenger. Apparently he knew when he was coming. When the messenger left the building with the cash box, he was shot. While the perpetrator got into a car and fled, the messenger remained injured and slumped. The getaway car was found a little later in the nearby Riedberg district. Completely burned out.
Even then, the police had suspicions. Possibly gang crime. This was due to the precise planning and the division of labor. Apparently several perpetrators. It didn’t take long for the Frankfurt investigators to establish a connection with North Rhine-Westphalia. Because there had been similar acts in Cologne. The same scheme, there too, the money messenger was shot at in one case. Stolen signs from the Netherlands were attached to the getaway car. The car was then set on fire not far from the crime scene. The evidently extremely brutal robbers continued their escape with a second car waiting. Then calm returned. Until Tuesday.
The search for accomplices is still ongoing
The police in Cologne announced that that morning the Dutch police had executed a European arrest warrant issued by the Cologne District Court against a sixty-year-old. He is strongly suspected of being involved in robberies in Cologne in March 2018, at Cologne / Bonn Airport in March 2019 and in Frankfurt in November 2019. It quickly became known on Tuesday that the man was an old friend: Thomas Drach, the convicted Reemtsma kidnapper, who was born in Erftstadt near Cologne in 1961. He is now accused of serious joint robbery in three cases and a violation of the War Weapons Control Act. The police and the public prosecutor’s office in Cologne did not mention his name, probably for tactical reasons.
It was also said that at least two perpetrators were involved in each of the three attacks, “that is, the driver and the passenger”. The investigation commission (EK) based in the Cologne police headquarters is still looking for this second man and for other people who knew about it and who were involved in the crime. The EK was formed after the first attack in Cologne-Godorf on March 24, 2018. However, it only came across a first trace of Drach after evaluating video recordings of the second crime committed on March 6, 2019 at Cologne / Bonn Airport. An eyewitness had filmed the professionally executed coup.
The investigators found the getaway car with which the perpetrators fled to the Netherlands after the robbery. The vehicle, which played a key role in the highly complex investigation, was seized. Whether this was before the third and last act on November 9, 2019 in Frankfurt was initially open. In any case, the Cologne investigators managed to identify Drach with the help of the car and to find his whereabouts. The Cologne District Court finally issued a European arrest warrant. The access took place in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning.
Thomas Drach has been known to Germans for a quarter of a century: in March 1996, he and his accomplices abducted the then 43-year-old millionaire Jan Philipp Reemtsma in front of his house in Hamburg-Blankenese. Reemtsma was locked in a cellar for 33 days, after all, without the knowledge of the police, the family organized the successful handover of around 30 million marks – the highest ransom that has ever been paid in the Federal Republic. Drach was finally arrested in Buenos Aires in 1998, extradited to Germany and sentenced in March 2001 to 14 years and six months imprisonment for extortionate kidnapping. He was released in 2013. After that, he evidently went abroad; his stay was last suspected in the German-Dutch border area.
The police are investigating the link to another case
“The investigations are far from over,” said a spokesman for the Cologne police headquarters on Tuesday. This explains why the Cologne EK wanted to inform the public only in broad outline about their spectacular search success. However, the police made one thing clear: The mysterious trio of the Red Army Faction (RAF) Burkhard Garweg, Ernst-Volker Staub and Daniela Klette, who have been in hiding for years, have nothing to do with the cases. Assumptions about the involvement of these three people in the robbery have not been confirmed. Since 2018, the media had repeatedly speculated about a connection to the three former members of the left-wing terrorist RAF. Among other things, they are wanted for a series of twelve robberies from 1999 to 2016. A failed attack on a money transporter in the Lower Saxony district of Diepholz is also attributed to them.
As for Drach, it is still unclear whether he is actually “only” suspect of these three acts. At least three weeks ago there was another alarm in Frankfurt. An armed man had robbed a money transporter in front of a savings bank in Bergen-Enkheim. Shots rang out again. Again, the burning escape vehicle was later discovered nearby. The police checked a connection to the attack at Ikea. Maybe it was Drach’s last coup.