LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Earlier this week, police claim a man took a taxi to Resorts World on the Strip, robbed the casino and left in a taxi with an undisclosed amount of money. Any robbery of a casino on the Strip makes headlines, but it’s not as rare as some think. Here is a look at some of the more notorious casino heists over the years.
If card counting was a crime, the MIT blackjack team would be at the top of the list when it comes to the amount of money taken from a casino. The team counted cards in Las Vegas between 1979 to 1994. It’s not known the exact amount the team won, but reports range from $22 million to $57 million.
The Biker Bandit – Bellagio – $1.5 million
When it comes to actual crimes involving robbing a casino, the big heist would be the ‘Biker Bandit’ at the Bellagio in 2010.
Anthony Michael Carleo, the son of a Las Vegas judge, walked into the Bellagio wearing a motorcycle helmet, brandished a gun, and made off with $1.5 million worth of chips off a craps table.
His run for freedom was recorded on a security video that was seen around the world within hours. But he got away on a motorcycle. It turned out, a few days earlier Carleo had stolen $20,000 worth of chips from the Suncoast Hotel & Casino in the same manner.
He was eventually caught because he bragged about it. Carleo is now serving between nine and 27 years in a Nevada state prison.
Bellagio – $160,000
The Bellagio was also the scene for a heist in 2000. This is when Jose Vigoa leaped over the counter at the cashier’s cage and filled a bag with $160,000 worth of chips.
Vigoa, a former commando in the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, did wear bulletproof gear during the robbery, but he did not conceal his face and was caught shortly after. He is erving four life sentences for multiple robberies and the murder of two armored truck guards.
Smoke Bombs at the Stardust – $1.1 million
The Stardust casino saw its fair share of crime over the years, and in a 1991 robbery there was an elaborate inside job that involved smoke bombs.
Royal Hopper, a Stardust security guard, used his two sons as imposter robbers in order to steal $150,000. Six months after their first robbery, Hopper and his sons stepped up their crime. They attacked a guard carrying $1.1 million in cash and checks from an armored truck and used smoke bombs to conceal their escape.
Stardust Sportsbook – $500,000
By the end of 1992, the Stardust would be hit again from the inside. This time it was a cashier named Bill Brennan, who was assigned to count the money from the sportsbook. Brennan did count the money, all $500,000 of it, and then grabbed it and walked out.
He left with half of it in cash and the other half in chips.
This is one time when the law never caught up to the criminal. The FBI even placed Brennan on its Most Wanted list until 2006. But when the Stardust closed, his case was dismissed. The crime remains unsolved.
Treasure Island – $30,000
In 2000 a man decided to target Treasure Island three times before his luck ran out.
Reginald Johnson successfully robbed Treasure Island in July and October, taking $30,000. But on his third attempt, in December, he ended up shooting at and injuring security guards.
This time police tracked him down and arrested him, he later pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted murder charges.
Mandalay Bay – Unknown amount
In 2005, two masked men approached the change booth at Mandalay Bay and held up the cashier with a gun. According to witnesses, the men fired warning shots into the ceiling and forced the workers to the ground.
The robbers stole what remains to this day an undisclosed amount of money and quickly made off in a car parked outside.
In 2017 someone robbed the Bellagio poker room. Earlier that year, burglars wearing pig masks and tuxedos used sledgehammers to break into a jewelry store at the resort. Police did arrest Sebastian Gonzales, 20, for the robbery.
In 2014 a man tried robbing the Bellagio by swiping casino chips off tables. Police said Michael Belton and another man wore wigs and sunglasses, sprayed a blackjack dealer with pepper spray, grabbed $115,000 worth of chips, and tried to run. Belton was convicted, and the other man got away.
This is just a small sample of the robberies and other crimes committed against Las Vegas casinos beginning back in the 1930s.