Casino Heists

For as long as casinos have been taking people’s money, people have been dreaming of ways to get it back. While most gamblers hope to recoup their losses with a lucky win, some casino patrons are not immune to the allure of stealing the money they want. The history of casino heists seems to repeat itself; time and time again people try the same old tricks, and generally they fail. In this article, we’ll explore both the impulsive and the well-planned attempts as well as a heist that was doomed before it started.

Take the Money and Run

In Las Vegas, there have been two big-money attempts to do just that. It’s worth noting that most successful casino robberies involve multiple people and some sort of inside help. But in the case of Stardust worker Bill Brennan and his outrageous 1992 theft, one man was all it took. Brennan’s plan was simple—one day he simply stuffed $500,000 into a backpack and then walked it out the door. Neither Brennan nor the money ever returned.

Robert Solis and Heather Tallchief also utilized a straightforward plan when they robbed Circus Circus in 1993. Tallchief was an armored truck driver, so after collecting $2.5 million at the casino she simply drove away with it. Both robbers managed to escape the city and then the country without getting caught, but Tallchief was scandalized when Solis cheated her too, leaving her broke and alone in the Caribbean with their young son. After 12 years of evading the law, Tallchief turned herself in, but Solis is still at large.

High-Tech Attempts

While the two simple robberies above were surprisingly successful, many potential casino robbers put a significant amount of time, money and planning into their heists. Of course you know what they say about the best laid plans… One duo of California thieves took their money slowly through a heist that lasted several months. Both gentlemen inserted computers in their shoes; one was designed to influence and read the roulette wheel while the other received the expected result. In this way, the two men made several successful trips to the roulette tables, but their success didn’t last long. Both men were busted after a savvy security officer noted their erratic betting patterns.

Ocean’s Eleven: The Gag Reel

While casino heists get a lot of media attention, very few attempted thefts are actually successful. If you think robbing a casino sounds like an easy hit; think again! Even the small casinos tend to have big security, whether it’s their hundreds of live cameras or their extensive floor crews. Movies like Ocean’s Eleven that glamorize casino heists don’t even begin to cover the security extremes that Las Vegas’ largest casinos take with their money. In 2000, three robbers underestimated Bellagio’s security when they tried to make off with $160,000. One thief ruined the heist by not wearing a mask. When he and his suspected accomplices were apprehended, one of his partners confessed to everything and implicated the other two in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.