Casinos and banks might not have much in common on first glance, but they are made equally attractive to thieves for one simple fact: they have vaults and safes full of money. While plenty of movies have been made about bank robberies, the two most notable films centred on casino heists are Ocean’s Eleven and Casino, but Hollywood hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of movie possibilities considering these bizarre true-crime casino heists.
Roberto Solis is the definition of a lifetime criminal as his first notable offence took place in 1969 when he robbed an armoured truck, landing him in prison. Fast-forward 24 years when Solis finally made parole and adopted a new identity – Julius Suave. While Solis/Suave was planning his next get-rich-quick scheme, he met Heather Tallchief, a beautiful woman 24 years his junior, and together they planned the (almost) perfect crime. Tallchief got a job as an armoured car driver, and one day simply drove off with $3 million of the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino’s money. Tallchief disguised herself as an old woman while Solis posed as her doctor and they hopped on a private plane to start their new life together. Tallchief turned herself in in 2005, but Solis remains at large to this day.
The Berlin Poker Heist
The next true-crime story proves why it’s safer to play your favourite online casino games at your favourite NZ online casino! In 2010, some of the biggest names in Poker had descended upon the Grand Hyatt in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin to play for the €1 million prize pool. As is the case with most major Poker tournaments, the entire event was being live streamed online when all of a sudden, to the panicked surprise of pro-Poker players and the viewers at home alike, four masked, armed gunmen invaded the tournament and seized whatever cash they could find. They made away with €200,000 without firing a single shot or harming a single patron, however some attendees were injured in the stampede which ensued.
Adam Thomas Vega
If there are two things casinos are serious about its security and money, and they would definitely notice if a few hundred thousand suddenly disappeared. So how do you get away with stealing $600,000? Well, you win it of course! At least this was the plan of Adam Thomas Vega, a 31-year slot floor assistant at the Desert Diamond Casino, when he created nearly 600 fake slot jackpot tickets, totalling $664,422. Each ‘winning’ ticket was for less than $1,200 which would prevent from having to generate a tax withholding form or require the signature of a supervisor. However, when one employee starts winning an unusual number of jackpots, someone is eventually going to smell a rat!
The Godfather of the Strip: Jose Vigoa
The Jose Vigoa story would probably make the best Hollywood movie out of all these true-crime casino heists, and you’ll soon see why. Born in Cuba, Vigoa ended up in Russia training for the Russian Special Forces known as Spetsnaz, and his arrival in the US kicked off a string of casino heists along the Las Vegas Strip. Vigoa quickly earned the nickname ‘Tony’ amongst the Las Vegas police as they likened him to Tony Montana from Scarface, and he was eventually captured and brought to justice in 2002. Vigoa was apologetic at his sentencing, but he still earned himself an outlandish 500 years behind bars.