When we think of casino heists we usually think of the mob storming into a smoky casino room from a rain-soaked strip smothered in pools of neon light reflections, Tommy guns drawn and cigars hanging from the lips of clean shaven faces partially hidden by the shadows of their Fedoras, bullets flying every which way. Classic stuff!
However, today’s casino robbers are, shall we say, a little more inventive.
We here at GoWIn have decided to list 5 of our favourite casino heists, in no particular order of course. Some succeeded with their crimes, some failed miserably and others simply vanished.
We’ve got biker bandits, armoured truck get-away drivers, smooth criminals and vanishing crooks. It’s all here so let’s lock ‘n load and go go go!
Back in early September 1992 one of the largest casino thefts of the time was about to unravel on the glamorous Las Vegas Strip. Stardust Casino* employee John Brennan, who worked as a sports book cashier, decided one morning to go to work, help himself to $500,000 worth of hard cash ‘n chips and simply walk out with a view to never return.
Described by his co-workers as a straight, clean-cut kind of guy who kept himself pretty much to himself John’s robbery was considered the largest single-handed casino theft of all time with the crime being classified as an unlawful possession/taking of money without the use of violent actions or violent threats.
A week after the theft an arrest warrant was issued for John which contained dozens of felony charges that would have seen him locked up for a long, long time.
However, John has never been caught and still remains at large.
*Stardust casino has since been demolished.
With Christmas festivities in full swing during December 2000 Reginald Johnson was about to spoil the party.
Reg, aged 27 at the time, entered Treasure Island Casino just off the main Vegas strip with one thing in mind, grab cash…and lots of it.
As he waltzed through the Casino foyer Reg was approached by a security guard due to his strange behavior. Reg then drew his weapon and shot the security guard at point-blank range seriously wounding the officer. Calmly stepping over the wounded security guard he walked over to the cashier where he fired another shot before running away completely empty handed.
Finally Police found Reginald walking along lake mead Boulevard not too far from the scene of the crime just hours after he’d attempted the robbery. Turns out good old Reginald was wanted in connection with two more attempts at robbing the same casino in the same year where he made off with about $30,000.
Although he pleaded guilty his trial was a rather crazy affair with Reginald laughing, ranting and raving while watching playback footage of the casino surveillance cameras showing him shooting the guard.
This next casino heist is the stuff of legends. Back in 2010 Anthony Carleo entered himself into casino heist folklore with his audacious, movie-like robbery attempt.
December 14th 2010 was just another day in Vegas until the ‘Biker bandit' entered the world famous Bellagio Casino on…a motor-bike.
Stunned patrons and staff watched as he dismounted his ride, strolled up to a craps table, produced a pistol from his leathers and demanded cash ‘n chips.
Once accruing his loot he then jumped back on his steed and stormed away on two wheels thinking he'd got away with it.
However, during the heist the dealer had given Anthony chips which were worth £25,000 each as well as being unique in colour for the Bellagio Casino which had a distinct cranberry colour pigmentation.
These very chips proved to be his downfall, as well as a certain lack of intelligence shall we say.
So what did our biker bandit do with all these chips? He decided to go online and peddle the chips to unsuspecting buyers in the hope of pocketing some serious cash. Using the imaginative email address ‘email@example.com’ (in reference to the chip colours and value!?) and signing his emails off as ‘biker bandit’ it wasn’t too long until the police came a knocking on his door.
During the raid police found the clever robber trying to sell the stolen chips online, funnily enough, to undercover cops.
It really wasn't his year.
In 2011 He was found guilty and sentenced to 27 years.
Imagine committing the perfect casino robbery. You and your partner steal just under $3 million in cash, no one gets hurt and no one has any trace of your partaking in the crime. Then imagine that after 12 years of freedom you decide hand yourself in…
That’s exactly what Heather Tallchief did.
In October 1993 the Circus Circus Casino in Vegas was targeted for a robbery in what was at the time a record breaking heist. Heather, a former Loomis Armor Inc truck driver decided to simply drive away from the casino with her armoured Loomis truck containing all the millions in loot with the intention of not giving it back.
With the truck and heather nowhere to be found Police had all but given up on finding her after years of no progress with the crime. That was until 12 years later when she decided to hand herself in to Las Vegas police in 2005.
Accepting full responsibility and claiming that she was riddled with guilt after running away to Holland with the cash the sentencing judge gave her just 5 years behind bars.
The money has never been recovered.
During the early noughties the las Vegas strip was continually being targeted by a spate of violent and fast moving robberies.
One day early 2001 two masked men wearing full body armour jumped a cashier cage at the Bellagio Casino and pocketed $160,000 in chips ‘n cash with a third person acting as lookout.
Upon fleeing the scene, one of the masked men fired shots at security guards narrowly missing them.
An intense period of investigation ensued after the incident by police which finally led them to one Oscar Cisneros, Jose Vigoa and Luis Suarez (not the footballer!). They were all tracked down and detained in relation to the crime.
Interestingly enough on further investigation Vigoa was found to be responsible for numerous casino heists and the murders of two armoured truck drivers.
Vigoa was due to be sentenced in 2012 but not before he tried to escape incarceration. The judge decided this chap was a nasty piece of work and sentenced him to four no-parole life sentences and an additional 306 to 760 years in prison. Cisneros committed suicide and Luis Suarez was sentenced to 15 years with a $150,000 fine.
These series of heists prompted MGM Casino to install the first security bars around each of their cashier cages leading to other casinos to follow suit.
Wow! That wraps up an adrenaline pumping article! Biker bandits, armoured truck get-aways, smooth criminals and vanishing crooks…this piece had 'em all! If you know of or have any stories about amazing casino heists that we've missed we'd love to hear from you. let us know in the comments below.