The Top 5 Casino Heists of All Time6 months ago
Story that the Jeju Casino in South Korea had been robbed of more than $13.4million in cash, with an employee apparently walking out with the money over the course of eight months’ lockdown, had us searching for the biggest and most brazen casino heists ever!
The apparently one-man inside job at the Triton Poker High Roller Series venue isn’t quite an Ocean's 11 (or 12, or 13, or even the female 8 of the most recent movie in the franchise) moment.
However, it’s also not the first-time a worker has decided to walk out with a fortune! Here to start our countdown of the top 5 casino heists of all time is an earlier version of the same real-life ‘movie’…
5. The Curious Case of the Missing CashierIt’s September 22nd 1992 at the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, and cashier Bill Brennan has been assigned to the counting desk of the sportsbook.
The Monday Night Football was on and Brennan was responsible for $500,000 (£342,000) in chips and cash.
Rather than deposit it by the usual method, however, Brennan filled a bag and sauntered out of the casino, never to be seen or heard from again.
A one-time manager at the now-defunct casino, Richard Saber, revealed:
“Bill started hanging out with a very shady character. I used to tell Bill, you know that guy is going to get you nothing but trouble and sure enough, Bill got in trouble.”Brennan found himself on the FBI Most Wanted List, but the inside robbery case was closed in 2006, as was the Stardust casino, and Saber believes Brennan was murdered for the cash by whoever put him up to it.
"For Bill Brennan to pull that off and never contact any of his family, it is beyond my wildest imagination. I just don’t think it could have happened."
4. Bonnie and Clyde hit Circus, Circus for $3millionA year after Brennan’s disappearance, Las Vegas was again hit by a massive robbery, this time a lovestruck young woman and her older, convicted murderer boyfriend hitting the Circus, Circus casino.
Twenty-one year old Heather Tallchief had started working undercover for the security company who provided the armoured truck’s dealing with the casino’s $millions.
60-year old Roberto Solis was out on parole after serving a 17-year sentence for murder and armed robbery.
Tallchief simply vanished during her route one day, an estimated $3million still in her truck, and – even though this was 1993 - no modern-day methods of tracking her or the armored Loomis vehicle she drove.
The Bonnie and Clyde duo boarded a plane the following day and disappeared, but for Tallchief the money would also disappear – Solis one day simply walking out on her and their baby, taking all but $1000 of their ill-gotten gains.
Solis has never been caught, and the money never recovered, but Tallchief was given a 5-year prison term after handing herself in to the police, having spent more than a decade hiding in Amsterdam.
3. Cocaine made me steal $1.5millionWhatever may have inspired the Ocean’s 11 crime caper, the movie itself led to one Vegas casino worker attempting his own $1.5million robbery.
Rolando Luda Ramos installed security cameras at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, and when he decided to raid the vault, he attempted to destroy some of the surveillance equipment.
What he didn’t do, however, was conceal himself in any way when he tied up four fellow members of staff, despite police later finding theatrical make-up at his apartment.
Armed with a gun and pepper spray, Ramos took the cash and fled the casino, though he and his getaway driver would later be caught and jailed.
Ramos infamously asked reporters:
“Did I top ‘Ocean’s 11’ or something? I didn’t even know how much I got away with,” later claiming he was “high on cocaine” at the time.
2. Armed gang rob Berlin EPT tournament of $327,000It wasn’t quite a casino that got taken for all a huge sum of money in Berlin back in 2010, but it was close enough – four armed robbers caught on camera in a daylight raid on the European Poker Tour.
With a chunk of cash on the premises from buy-ins to various tournaments, the armed gang fought with security staff at the Hyatt Hotel in the city's Potsdamer Platz.
Eyewitness descriptions of the weapons used varied from pump-action shotguns to Kalashnikovs and hand grenades, and the brazen robbers eventually made off with €242,000 (about $327,000 at the time).
Six men were later arrested, including the mastermind behind the robbery, Ibrahim al Moussa, who was sentenced to more than 6 years in jail. Most of the money was never recovered.
1. Bellagio Biker BanditThere are very few casino robberies that can compete with the one carried out by Anthony Carleo, the Bellagio Biker Bandit, who robbed the legendary Vegas venue of $1.5 million in casino chips and escaped on a motorbike.
It was December 14th 2011 when Carleo, the son of a high court judge, walked into the craps area of the Bellagio Casino dressed in black with a motorcycle helmet on and left with $1.5million in chips, stolen at gunpoint from the tables.
The biggest problem with stealing chips, of course, was somehow turning them into hard cash – and the high-value $25,000 Cranberry-coloured chips eventually led to Carleo’s downfall.
In a plotline straight from a movie, Carleo was back at the Bellagio again the very next night, playing at the same craps table he had robbed.
After losing or spending all his low denomination chips, he tried to sell off the ‘cranberries’, resorting to online forums as to how best to do so.
Eventually his way-too-obvious behaviour got noticed and Carleo was set up and arrested in a bathroom at the Bellagio no less, attempting to sell his cranberry-coloured chips. Carleo received several prison terms for his various crimes.
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