Las Vegas Has Four Casino Robberies in One Month

Las Vegas Strip Casino Robberies

In March 2017, a man tried to rob Bellagio’s retail area while wearing a pig mask.

Criminals have robbed four Las Vegas casino-hotels this month, but local authorities believe the coincidental robberies are unrelated. Police are still looking for multiples suspects that got away with cash and chips from the casinos.

The robberies took place at three Las Vegas Strip casinos — New York New York, Harrah’s, and SLS Las Vegas – while the fourth occurred at Ellis Island Casino and Brewery, an off-strip casino.

Back in late-November, a fifth robbery occurred at Bellagio on the Vegas Strip. Given the confluence of cash and people, it is no surprise that people think they can abscond with money or chips at times. MGM Macau had a robbery this week, too, though it involved a dealer.

New York-New York Casino Robbery

The first robbery in 2018 occurred at the New York-New York on Jan. 10. A man brandished a handgun and demanded money from a casino cage cashier. The same day, at Harrah’s, three people grabbed chips from a game table.

On January 13, at Ellis Island, a man pulled a gun on a cashier and demanded money. The fourth incident happened on Jan. 15, when a man jumped a counter at the SLS, grabbed cash and left the casino located in the northern end of the Strip.

Though two of the criminals were armed with guns, no one sustained injuries in any of the four robberies. Police do not believe that any of these events are connected, because the modus operandi seems different in most of them.

Lt. Michael Mauntel of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said, “It’s unusual. Absolutely, I am concerned that they are happening a little too often.”

Security and Risk Management

Authorities have not released figures for the amounts of money or chips stolen from the casinos. Police said their non-disclosure is a policy set in place for the protection of the casinos. They do not want to encourage other criminals to target casinos for the potential large payouts by advertising success.

Casinos face a dilemma when it comes to how much security they should use to prevent theft. For instance, security guards are not to pursue armed suspects. Mehmet Erdem, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the “no pursuit” policy has been a longstanding practice set by casino operators.

Erdem says companies have to also be careful in balancing the amount of visible security on the floor. Too many security staffers might make customers uneasy. This has to be balanced with the need to have enough security that they can see all areas on the casino floor.

Erdem said, “If you have armed security personnel, I’m looking at my risk management. How much money am I loosing from heists versus responsibility?”

The reasoning behind the no-pursuit policy follows an incident in 2000, when a confrontation between security and robbers ended in the death of a tourist. A stray bullet hit the victim at Harrah’s Las Vegas, as security officers struggled with a robbery suspect who had opened fire. As officers were attempting to handcuff the robbery suspect, he shot a guard in the stomach, then fired another shot that went through a guard’s pant leg and into the back of a bystander, ultimately killing him.

“Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal”

Erdem added, “Do you want to create incidents like that? Unless you have Navy SEALs for your security personnel and they are, like, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal and can take out anybody, I think it is a huge risk to have security personnel be armed at least in a visible setting.”

The lack of armed guards might encourage criminals to hit casinos. Most of them see it as a bigger reward than risk, with no fear of them running into an armed guard. While Metro Police patrol the Las Vegas Strip and are a minute or two away from the scene, that often is enough for robbers to get away from the scene. Still, casinos have camera surveillance everywhere, and the casino’s management is determined to find the suspects tied to the recent spate of robberies.

November 2017 Bellagio Heist

The Bellagio’s cashier was robbed back on November 30, 2107. The incident occurred around 4 pm, when a man approached a poker cage and demanded money. The incident was caught on the casinos surveillance cameras, leading to an indelible image.

The suspect is seen wearing a hooded jacket or sweatshirt and a winter hat over a wig, along with a mask that covered half of his face. You can see the man holding a white bag that he can be seen later carrying the money out in. Video showed the man at the poker cage, where he began talking with the attendant behind the cage. Once he gets the money, the robber stuffed it in the bag and ran back the way he came and gets onto his car and drives away.

Captain John Pelletier of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said, “Those who commit crimes like this on the Strip will be hunted down and whatever amount of cash he got is not enough to face a lifetime in prison.”