WARSAW, Poland - A foreigner outside of Poland commissioned the brazen theft of the infamous Auschwitz sign
Arbeit Macht Frei
("Work Sets You Free"), and detectives must expand their investigation beyond the country's borders, officials said.
In a bid to learn more about the escapade, investigators held an re-enactment of Friday's theft by the three men who confessed to taking the sign from the former Nazi death camp.
Based on the evidence gathered since the theft, the crime was commissioned by a "person living outside Poland," and police were seeking help from Interpol and others as they investigate, said Artur Wrona, the chief prosecutor in Krakow.
Polish media have reported, without citing any sources, that someone in Sweden could be under suspicion, but Wrona would not confirm or deny the claims.
In Stockholm, Superintendent Bertil Olofsson of the Swedish National Criminal Police said there had been "no requests made by the Polish police to the Swedish police yet, and so we can't confirm this speculation."
Aside from the specter of an international link to the crime, Wrona said the investigation so far had exposed "glaring negligence" in the security system at the Auschwitz museum that let the burglars act "undisturbed."
He said the suspects drove to the then-closed museum in a sports car after dark Thursday but found they needed tools to get down the sign - which is a symbol of Nazi Germany atrocities during World War II. They went to a shop and bought tools, including a spanner, he said.
When they returned, it was just after midnight and no guards were about as they unbolted one side and ripped the other off the opposite gate post, officials said. Police said the sign was cut into three pieces with a saw so it could fit in the getaway car.
Only one camera overlooks the gate, and it remained unclear if it recorded the theft.
Museum spokesman Jaroslaw Mensfelt said that for more than 60 years of its existence, the museum's security system had seemed sufficient, but that it was now undergoing scrutiny.
Working from tips, police found the sign Sunday - hidden under snow in the woods - and arrested five suspects in northern Poland.
Prosecutors said three of the five men confessed. Prosecutor Piotr Kosmaty said the two others denied any involvement and denied being at Auschwitz.