It is the biggest case of theft in at least a decade in the north Bavarian region of Lower Franconia.
Indeed, it could be much longer, but that is as far the police spokesperson with whom The Local talked could say for certain.
For around 18 months a civil servant at the city administration in Schweinfurt was quietly stuffing her own pockets, pretending she was simply paying out tuition loans to needy students, police say.
But the students never existed and the bank accounts actually belonged to the long-term city employee and her husband.
The con worked for such a long time that the woman stole €290,000, investigators allege.
A co-worker noticed that something smelt fishy early in 2016 when she stumbled upon strange payments coming from the student loan office.
After she alerted her superiors, the police were brought in.
Their initial suspicion that the woman had been secretly stealing from the city was strengthened by further investigations and on Friday officers raided her house to secure evidence.
Police have seized valuables from the house which they believe were bought with the money and have also frozen several bank accounts.
The police spokesman couldn't be certain that all the money will be recovered.
“Some valuables have already been recovered, but because the theft started such a long time ago it is likely that some of the money will have found its way into other places,” he said.
Unlike countries such as Spain, where a bureaucrat was recently found to have been pocketing his salary without going to work for six years, German civil servants have a reputation for pedantry rather than profligacy.
In 2012 though a culture ministry employee in central Germany was nabbed for stealing 53,000 books from state libraries.
When police arrested him at a public library he was in possession of 53 stolen books.