We all know the plot of a classic casino heist: the charismatic leader and his master plan, the assembly of the perfect team, the test run and the heist itself. There’s nothing more thrilling or satisfying than watching a well-executed bank robbery or casino break-in by a gang of underdogs… but heists aren’t just for the cinema screen.
Move over Danny Ocean – here are some astounding casino heists that actually happened – some were successful, others less so…
This world famous casino has one of the most iconic visages of any Vegas establishment, but the Bellagio is also known for a high profile scandal that took place in the year 2000, when Jose Vigoa walked through those doors with his two accomplices. Prior to his arrival in Vegas, Vigoa already had a series of thefts and casino heists under his belt, but this was to be his biggest robbery to date. The trio attempted to steal more than $150,000 by simply leaping over the teller’s desk and grabbing cash and casino chips. Vigoa’s brazenness in not wearing a face covering led to him being quickly recognised as the wanted man he was, and although the three men made some headway, they were soon caught by the casino security. Vigoa is currently serving not one but four life sentences for this heist plus his past actions.
The Soboba Casino is best known for the unbelievable robbery attempt that took place in 2007, when two men stole a whopping $1.5 million by nefarious means from under the houses’s nose. Of the men in question, the mastermind was actually a security worker for the casino itself – what better than having an inside man on the job? The 27-year-old mastermind Rolando Luda Ramos later said he was inspired by the plot of Ocean’s Eleven, although he and his accomplice took things to the next level (and without half of George Clooney’s swagger) when they were eventually imprisoned for battery and kidnapping along with robbery.
Even this glamorous London establishment isn’t impervious to the casino trickster, and in 2004, four Eastern Europeans made headlines when they walked through the doors of The Ritz in London’s Piccadilly and took the house for a staggering £1.5 million. The story goes that the trio entered the room holding only with their mobile phones – the phones were equipped with lasers that fed data back into a computer which they used to determine the behaviour of the roulette wheel and subsequently predict where to bet. Although they were initially arrested, it was later ruled that they hadn’t actually done anything illegal and the three where allowed to keep their winnings.
Circus Circus is another high profile Vegas casino that’s inspired its fair share of heists, notably in 1993 when a couple channelled Bonnie and Clyde to steal not only cash but an incredible expensive armoured vehicle from the casino grounds. Heather Tallchief worked for the vehicle’s on-site security company; her partner Roberto Solis had a history of armed robbery, violence and murder: together they stole the vehicle, robbed the casino’s vaults of $2.5 million and left on the first flight out of States. The couple’s romance didn’t weather the storm, however, and Solis eventually fled with nearly all the cash and was never caught, leaving Tallchief to come clean and serve five years in prison.
Last but certainly not least, The Crown Casino in Perth, Australia was the target for one of the biggest casino heists of our time, with an eye-watering amount of cash in the mix. The deceptively simple heist took place in 2013 and involved one employee of the casino watching the security cameras and reporting to a high roller on the tables. After totalling wins of a whopping $32 million, someone smelled a rat and the duo were caught, although because the casino was able to reclaim most of the funds, there was no penalty for the culprits.
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