$1.5m in casino chips taken in daring Las Vegas heist
Wednesday 15 December 2010
An armed bandit escaped on a motorcycle today after stealing at least 1.5 million dollars in casino chips from the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas and may have pulled a similar caper across town less than a week ago, police said.
The early morning robbery at a craps table happened "about as quick as you can do it", when a man wearing a motorcycle helmet pulled a gun on patrons, police Lieutenant Clinton Nichols said.
Police later released an 11-second video showing a man in a jumpsuit running through a casino entry lobby with a gun in his right hand. At one point, he turned and pointed the weapon behind him. His helmet appeared to be red with twin white stripes from front to rear.
Police suspect the same man wore a helmet, flashed a gun and sped away on a black sport motorcycle after robbing the Las Vegas Suncoast Hotel & Casino poker room on December 9.
That heist netted less than 20,000 dollars in chips, Las Vegas police officer Barbara Morgan said.
Estimates of the amount taken from Bellagio varied. Lt Nichols said it could approach two million dollars.
The culprit, however, might find it hard to redeem his loot at any other casino except the high-end, Italian-themed hotel-casino with a wall of famous fountains along the Las Vegas Strip.
Gordon Absher, spokesman for Bellagio owner MGM Resorts International, declined to discuss the investigation. But he noted that casino chips aren't the same as cash.
"At some point they have to be redeemed," Mr Absher said.
Chips are unique to casino properties and are generally not interchangeable, although state regulations allow casino companies to redeem chips from sister properties with some restrictions.
Mr Absher wouldn't say if MGM Resorts properties are among Las Vegas casinos that embed radio frequency devices in chips.
The chips taken at Bellagio ranged in value from 100 dollars to 25,000 dollars. Authorities plan to watch for anyone trying to cash high-value Bellagio chips.
"We have safeguards in place," Ms Morgan said.
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