Watching an expertly planned casino heist unfold on screen can be immensely thrilling, yet real life heists don’t only happen in movies.
Heists don’t always go smoothly, and some can even be downright terrifying. Here, we have collected some of the most infamous casino heists in history that will send chills down your spine – and Danny Ocean doesn’t hold a candle to these real-life casino heists!
1. The Stardust Heist
Stardust Casino was the scene of one of the most infamous casino heists ever conducted, where an extremely complex heist was planned and executed flawlessly, leading to theft of an unprecedented sum of money by thieves who managed to successfully escape with it.
Bill Brennan worked as a sports book cashier at Stardust casino and on September 22, 1992 simply left with half a million in chips and cash, which has never been seen again or solved. The case remains open.
Today’s casinos feature sophisticated security measures that make robbing them virtually impossible without getting caught. But this wasn’t always the case: years ago casinos had much fewer protection measures and could easily be targeted for theft.
2. The Bellagio Heist
In December, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet entered a Bellagio craps table wearing only his motorcycle helmet and took $1.5 million worth of casino chips ranging in denomination from $100-$25,000 from an unattended tray. Many compared the event to something out of Ocean’s Eleven.
Police had been monitoring the individual who robbed the Bellagio for weeks and caught him when he attempted to sell some of the stolen $25,000 chips to an undercover cop in an attempted sale transaction in a bathroom.
Anthony Carleo was taken from his hotel through the service entrance and taken directly to central booking in downtown Portland for booking. Carleo had been engaged in an illegal drug and gambling spree at the time of his arrest and received three to 11 years imprisonment as a sentence.
3. The Ritz Heist
In January, an axe-wielding gang broke into the five-star Ritz hotel in Paris and stole gems and watches estimated to be worth an estimated 4.5 million euros. Three of the thieves were apprehended while fleeing; two are still at large.
Police reported that three individuals wearing balaclavas and gloves entered through a rear staff entrance and stole gems and watches from display cases at Reza shop, using one as cover to escape after leaving some items behind in his bag.
This dramatic raid has raised serious concerns over security in an otherwise secure neighborhood that includes France’s Ministry of Justice and luxury goods stores. At the time of robbery, best-selling author Frederic Beigbeder was enjoying a drink at Hemingway Bar of Hotel de Paris Hemingway hotel.
4. The Mirage Heist
Crooks may conjure images of Las Vegas as once being controlled by organized crime; however, today’s criminals who make their living from robbing or stealing at Strip casinos are far more diverse. This includes women as well as criminals of varying skill sets.
Robert Florence, an expert on casino security, claims the Nikrasch group was among the most effective heist crews during the 70s and 80s, successfully making off with millions by rigging slot machines to appear to hit jackpots when in fact they hadn’t. They did this through what he described as creating “malfunctions”, making machines appear as though they had hit them instead.
Before the heist, they visited a makeup artist to hide their identities and prevent security cameras from catching a glimpse. Unfortunately, however, they were caught and arrested.
5. The Circus Circus Heist
Heather Tallchief’s journey from nursing assistant to accomplice of one of the largest casino heists ever orchestrated is an inspiring tale of deceit and manipulation. On October 1, 1993, Tallchief drove her Loomis armored work vehicle to Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas intending to refill ATM machines but instead made an abrupt exit with nearly $3 Million cash stuffed into its compartments – she made sure she kept both the truck as well as nearly $2.5 Million cash!
Tallchief and Roberto Solis then took to the roads, moving sporadically across America before finally relocating to Amsterdam. She served her prison sentence and has returned to her normal life; however, Solis remains at large to this day; their heist remains one of the most audacious and successful casino robberies ever attempted.