Most Infamous Casino Heists: Photos
Casino have long been attractive targets for criminals, and like a high stakes bet, a heist is a major gamble.
A 23-year-old man by the name of Shane Tenold tried his hand at robbing at gunpoint the Lucky Charm Casino in Butte, Mont., earlier this week, though he didn't have much time to enjoy his winning. An off-duty police officer stayed on his tail until other officers could reach the scene. Within 10 minutes of walking away with two bags with of cash, Tenold was apprehended. How much Tenold made off with isn't clear, but it probably wasn't enough to cover the $40,000 bail and up to 40 years in state prison he faces if convicted of felony armed robbery,
. In taking on a casino, Tenold went after what has long been an attractive target for criminals playing an entirely different game of chance than the ones that attract casino patrons. In this slideshow, take a look at some of the most daring casino heists in history.
Over the last couple of years, robbers setting their sites on Macau's junkets, third-party intermediaries that put up cash to allow high rollers and VIPs to gamble in casinos, have walked away with huge sums of money. Last year, a massive
from Dore Entertainment Co., a junket operating in Wynn Macau. In 2014, a shareholder named Huang Shan in another junket, the Kimren Group,
, leaving investors in the lurch. The cash has yet to be recovered in either case. Although Macau is the world's largest gambling destination,
, the robberies put the casino industry at risk, given its dependence on high rollers and the junket system.
In a high-tech twist on a casino heist, a team of scammers targeting the Crown Melbourne in Australia used the casino's own surveillance system against it to
from the gaming venue. After gaining remote access to the casino's cameras, one team member would survey the hands of players at a high roller table. He would then give surreptitiously give advice on how to play to an accomplice at the table. Crown officially eventually caught on to the caper, ejecting the high roller from the casino.
Based out of San Diego, a group known to law enforcement as the Tran organization collectively stole more than $7 million from 20 casinos around the United States,
. The group used a number of different tactics to squeeze money out of casinos. They used a "false shuffle" strategy, a method in which a dealer manipulates playing cards in order to favor an accomplice, by bribing dealers and supervisors. The scammers also employed technology, including transmitter and specially created prediction software for blackjack, to win high-stakes games. The gang's success came to an end when its leader, Phuong Truong, began shorting his dealers, who eventually became informants for the FBI. An extensive investigation led to the law enforcement agency uncovering the organization's methods and patterns, eventually putting the 42 members of the gang out of commission in 2007.
Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other Boston-area universities conducted one of the most successful scams in casino history, and how they did it is entirely legal, though it won't win you any friends in the casino industry. In the early 1990s, the
used card counting and a mathematical model to score millions of dollars from Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, the Bahamas and other casinos worldwide. To prevent detection, they worked in teams, coordinating in ways that made it difficult for dealers and casino security to spot their scheme. Their winning also came with the perks offered by casinos, including luxury suites and a VIP treatment. Eventually, casinos caught on and began banning individual members from gambling. Although card counting is not illegal, players could be arrested for trespassing if a casino blacklists them. Former members also tipped off the Griffith Agency, an investigative service that works with casinos to spot disproportionately successful player, on the identities of members of the MIT Blackjack Team.
A couple of lovebirds in 1993 pulled off a heist in Las Vegas in which they walked away with at least $2.5 million in cash. Roberto Solis and Heather Catherine Tallchief drove off with an armored car carrying the proceeds from the Circus-Circus hotel-casino. Tallchief had taken a position as a driver and armed guard with the armored car contracting agency six weeks earlier under an assumed identity. After the robbery, the two boarded a plane to the Netherlands. Shortly after the heist, Solis abandoned Tallchief, taking with him the money and leaving her with their son. Tallchief
, admitting her role in the scheme, saying she fell under the influence of her partner. Tallchief received of five years and three months; Solis remains at large.
Not every heist targeting a casino's vault is as clever or as graceful as the scheme seen in the first Ocean's 11 film. In 2007, Roland Luda Ramos, an employee at the Soboba Casino in San Diego, Calif., convinced a friend, Eric Alan Aguilera, to help him rob his workplace. Ramos tied up three security officials and held others at gun, using a plastic replica, even pepper spraying one casino worker. Aguilera served as the getaway driver. The two made off with $1.5 million, but were later arrested. Ramos was convicted of robbery false imprisonment, battery and other charges, receiving a sentence of 16 years in prison. Aguilera was convicted of robbery, though a kidnapping charge was dismissed, and received a 12-year sentence.
In 2004, a trio of scammers used laser technology to
. Using a laser scanner linked to a computer, the team were able to accurately determine the numbers that would come up on the roulette wheel and place their bets accordingly. Although the three were arrested and their funds frozen, they were allowed to keep their winnings in the end because they hadn't broken any laws, the police determined.
In early morning hours on Dec. 14, 2010, Anthony Carleo strolled into the Bellagio in Las Vegas wearing a motorcycle helmet, approached a craps table and pulled out a gun. He seized some $1.5 million in chips and fled away on a motorcycle. He would become known as the "biker bandit." Unfortunately for Carleo, as soon as he left the casino, the chips he stole lost all of their value. Many of the chips stolen were high-denomination, including cranberry-colored $25,000 chips with an RFID tag that acts as a signature for each chip. In trying to unload the chips through online forums, detectives were able to trace the robbery back to Carleo seven weeks after he sped off. In 2011, Carleo, who also admitted to a role in a separate robbery at the Suncoast casino,
Working as a cashier at the Stardust Resort and Casino in 1992, Bill Brennan nonchalantly left the casino during his lunch, strolling right past security guards with an estimated half million dollars in cash and chips in his backpack. Brennan's whereabouts are still unknown.