Most gamblers come to the casino to play some cards and try their luck. The anticipation, potential rewards, and excitement of striking it rich by taking chances draws hundreds of thousands to Las Vegas casinos each year. Most come to enjoy the ambiance and ‘cut loose’ with visions of dollar signs in their eyes. Some gamblers opt for a much quicker route to riches, but a gamble that is much riskier, to boot. The house always maintains some edge or degree to which the odds are in their favor, but there are those who win and win big. The gamblers that orchestrate casino heists and plot to get away with astronomical winnings – by any means give new meaning to cliché’ ‘by any means necessary’. The following individuals chose the fast path to ‘easy money’ in Vegas and made it out alive! Alive, indeed, but busted and broke – some sooner than later. These five most memorable heists that made headlines in Vegas are sure to remain alive as Vegas folklore.
Memorable heist number one happened at the prestigious Bellagio in Las Vegas. A daredevil on a motorcycle zoomed up to the Bellagio on his motorcycle, sauntered up to a craps table and took $1.5 million in chips at gunpoint before he jumped back on that bike and zoomed to freedom. Momentarily he zoomed to freedom, but that all ended for Anthony Carleo, then 29 when he attempted to sell the chips on an internet poker website. He might qualify for Vegas’ silliest criminal when he listed the for sale chips using the email address ‘cranberry******@yahoo (for the color of the chips) and when he had the audacity to return to the Bellagio with some of the chips and tried to sell them to an undercover police officer. Carleo pleaded guilty in August of 2011 and was sentenced to prison for 9 to 27 years. His father, former Municipal Court Judge must have been relieved that it was not his job to hand down the sentence
There are so many casinos in Las Vegas, it comes as no surprise that there have been a significant number of heists – some botched some not. The masterminds are almost always busted in the end, as Heather Tallchief later found out. Heather got away with it for a while, but her involvement in the plan to rip off the Circus Circus Casino eventually landed her some ‘time’ in the joint. Tallchief, with then boyfriend Roberto Solis, agreed to take off in the Loomis armored truck that just loaded up with Circus Circus money - $2.5 million to be exact. It was a brilliant idea to the young Tallchief until the couple reached their getaway spot by traveling through the Cayman Islands and St. Martin. Upon arrival to their final destination, Solis, a convicted murderer, decided to get away from Tallchief, and take the money with him! Tallchief turned herself in for the heist but made it 12 years ‘on the run’ – what a circus that must have been!
Miss Ida Summers, ‘hand- mucker’ extraordinaire bestowed the pleasure of her company on Las Vegas back in the early 1970’s. Miss Summers likely caused enough distraction with her elegant and magnetic beauty that her magnificent sleight of hand tricks went undetected for years. It was simply a walk in the park for her to slip ‘cooler’ cards into the game, but her daring boldness only heightened with each successful trick. Legend says that Summers was able to slip an entire ‘cold’ deck of cards into a game without notice. She was ultimately detected and punished for her casino savvy, but not without some notoriety as one of the few females to cheat the casino in those days.
In yet another Vegas heist two men arrived at the Bellagio to play blackjack. And gamble they did, but not at blackjack for very long. This plan was botched when the pair began to play blackjack but drew pepper spray from their pockets. The idea was to spray the dealer and whoever else they needed to distract long enough to grab a jackpot and bolt for the door. The problem was the duo didn’t expect the pepper spray to malfunction, and gave casino workers just long enough to tackle one of the pair before he made it to the door. Michael Belton claims to have been recruited by a man on Craiglist to pull-off this heist gone awry, but could not identify the man, sources say.
The Stardust, circa 1992 one of ‘their own’ waltzed off with $500,000 worth of chips and cash. Bill Brennan, a sports-book cashier decided to take off with the loot on his lunch break and was never heard from again. Rumors around Vegas indicate that a possible ‘partner’ in crime, or possibly the mastermind behind the daring dodge, later killed Brennan and is off on an island somewhere enjoying the profit. The Stardust doesn’t exist anymore as newer and more luxurious casinos have made way for a whole new brand of criminals on the casino floors.