Everyone has seen Hollywood’s treatment of Las Vegas, the mega-millionaire, tight-fisted casino owners facing off against the lovable bandits. The silver screen isn’t the only place where wild crimes happen—these are three casino heists are so sensational, you won’t be able to believe they really happened.
12 Years on the Run – Heather Tallchief and Roberto Solis
A regular Bonnie and Clyde pair, the story of Heather Tallchief and Roberto Solis puts a modern spin on things. In September of 2005, Heather Tallchief turned herself in after almost twelve years on the run from the law. The trouble had started in October of 1993, when Tallchief, a new driver for the Loomis armored truck company, took off in the truck she was supposed to be protecting. In it, more than $2.5 million belonging to Circus Circus, a hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
While her co-workers were in the casino collecting more money, Tallchief drove away, to meet up with her lover, Roberto Solis, an ex-con who had been recently released from prison after serving 16 years for murdering a guard during a 1969 robbery. As it turns out, if it hadn’t been for Solis, Tallchief would never have been driving the truck. It was he who encouraged her to apply for the job at Loomis.
A jury agreed that Tallchief had been manipulated into the crime, and she served a 5 year sentence. Solis, who abandoned Tallchief not long after the heist, is still at large, living off the casino “winnings.”
Eudaemonic Forces – The Eudaemons
Maybe the guys working the roulette wheels in the casinos of Las Vegas first thought this group of young gamblers were uncannily lucky, or maybe they figured it was some kind of supernatural power. Regardless of the reason, the ball almost always seemed to fall in their favor.
In the late 1970s, a small group calling themselves the Eudaemons, headed by two physics students from UC Santa Cruz, J. Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard, set about to beat the roulette, with the lofty goal of donating the proceeds from their casino gambling to fund scientific research.
The group successfully developed a small computer that could be fit inside a shoe and used to predict which quadrant of the roulette wheel the ball would land in. They managed to make about $10,000 before technical problems with the device (a few of the group members were shocked or burned by the electronics equipment) forced them to retire. Both Farmer and Packard went on to be successful. Versions of their device are still used today, and are widely considered to be a legal way to play, though it may get you banned from a casino.
Don’t Leave the Front Door Open – Bill Brennan
Bill Brennan was an unassuming character, just another cashier working at a now-demolished but once-major casino. So what landed this average joe on both the front page of America’s newspapers, and a spot on the FBI’s list of most wanted felons?
The answer is simple—in fact, one of the simplest in the history of Las Vegas. The young man walked off with a half a million dollars of the casino’s money. Literally. One afternoon, he simply packed a bag brimming with money and casino scrip, and walked out past the guards before anyone realized what had happened. The ease of the crime’s execution was one of the largest embarrassment for a Las Vegas casino in current history. Amazingly, the whereabouts of the thief remain unknown.