robber with a bag of stolen goods

Casinos are an alluring target for crooks. Next to banks, brick-and-mortar casinos offer a tempting site for crooks to focus time and energy. Casino security is hard to break through if you’re playing at the Grande Vegas Casino mobile casino but if a robber can successfully penetrate a land-based casino he can walk away with enough money to live for years in luxury and style.

Most casino heists end with the culprits apprehended and the loot recovered but throughout history there have been casino heists that authorities have never solved. These robberies leave the public intrigued and law enforcement officials baffled and frustrated.

Some of these unsolved cases involve complex manipulations and planning while others seem deceptively simple. Some of history’s most captivating unsolved casino heists include:

The Stardust Resort and Casino Heists

In September 1992, the Stardust Resort and Casino, one of the most opulent and luxurious casino-hotels on the Vegas Strip, fell victim to an inside job that was carried out by cashier Bill Brennan. Brennan chose a Monday, when Sunday’s football bets ensured that the sportsbook till would be overflowing with cash.  Brennan was assigned to count the money from the sportsbook which he had done countless times in the past. The total was $507,361, half in cash and the rest in chips.

Then, in a stunning disappearing act, Brennan disappeared. The cameras, which monitored the casino 24/7 from all directions, didn’t pick up Bill taking the money, walking out of the casino or walking away. Investigators couldn’t tell how he stole the money or in which direction he went.

In fact, the casino was unaware that the money was gone for several hours. Once it became clear that Brennan was the culprit, police visited his apartment and found that both he and his cat were missing.

And that’s where the trail goes cold. In the apartment were some books about how to change your appearance but the ensuring manhunt – even Brennan’s name being featured on the FBI’s Most Wanted list – never turned up anything. Brennan never contacted any family members and today, thirty three years after the heist, the case remains unsolved.

Circus Circus Heist

In 1993 Heather Tallchief and boyfriend Roberto Solis hatched a plan to drive away with cash from the Circus Circus casino. Tallchief got a job as a driver for the Loomis Armored Vehicles company in Las Vegas to transport the cash that would be used to fill up the casino ATMs.

After a routine stop at the Circus Circus casino, Tallchief left the guards inside the casino and drove away with roughly $3 million in the truck. Tallchief and Solis managed to leave the country but in 2005 Tallchief turned herself in, claiming that she had only received $1,000 of the multimillion-dollar heist and that she and Solis had separated. Solis was never located, despite Tallchief’s willingness to cooperate with authorities.

Stardust Resort and Casino

In 1976, when George Jay Vandermark was working as the slot machines supervisor at the Las Vegas Stardust Resort and Casino, the Nevada Gaming Control Board raided the casino and discovered that money was being skimmed from the slot machines and transferred to the Mafia.

During the raid Vandermark slipped out of the casino and fled the city in an effort to evade both the authorities and the Mafia – from the money that he had been skimming, he had kept almost half for himself.

Vandermark’s son Jeff told the authorities that he could convince his father to come back but before George Jay could return, Jeff Vandermark was murdered. Over the years George Jay Vandermark has never been found and the money that he pocketed was never recovered.

Horizon Casino

A slot attendant at the Horizon Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi, took a break one evening in 2003 when he encountered a  masked man wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket. The man forced the attendant to go to the cash cage and he then told all the employees working there that  two bombs had been planted in the building and that they would need to give him the money in the cage. They did so, taking approximately $60,000.

The employees then called the police who found a fake bomb but police efforts were stymied by other “incidents” taking place in the area – a fire at a local school and another false bomb alert at another nearby casino. These incidents, which the police later determined to be diversions, kept the authorities occupied and they were not able to immediately follow up on the Horizon Casino incident. The thieves got away and today, 21 years later, the case has not been solved.

Venetian Casino

IN 2014 Jesse Hailey, a former casino dealer at the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas, smuggled $6 million worth of high-denomination chips out of the casino. When he tried to redeem some of the chips he was arrested and the casino was able to recover some of the chips, which had been hidden in a storage unit.

Hailey was convicted and sent to prison but authorities were never able to account for the majority of the chips which makes Hailey’s heist one of the most significant chip heists in Vegas history.

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