$1 Million Loss in Vegas Casino Heist
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Robbers escaped with an estimated $1 million in cash and checks today after setting off two smoke bombs in a daring heist in the crowded casino of a Strip resort.
Gamblers at the Stardust Hotel scattered for exits or hid behind tables as two armed men ignited the smoke bombs, then grabbed a guard as he carried a satchel of cash and checks from the casino cage to a waiting armored car.
Stardust spokeswoman Kathy Espin estimated the loss at ″approximately $1 million.″ Las Vegas Metro Police earlier described the loss as ″substantial.″
″People were running through the casino yelling ’They’ve got guns 3/8 They’ve got bombs 3/8‴ said Pat Shumaker of Chattanooga, Tenn. ″People were running through the kitchen, running for the exits, hiding behind tables.″
Two men grabbed the satchel, knocked the guard to the floor, then grabbed his gun and fled to a waiting station wagon driven by a third man, said Metro Sgt. Mike Thompson. The trio later abandoned the station wagon and fled in a white Granada, Thompson said.
Ms. Espin said the money technically belonged to Loomis Armored Inc., the armored car company, since the guard had signed for the money.
No injuries were reported, although several customers complained of inhaling the smoke that drifted through the sprawling casino.
Thompson said the chemical mixture used to create the smoke was carried in two large soft drink containers. The smoke bombs ignited carpeting in front of the casino cage, but the fires were quickly extinguished.
A police helicopter joined in the search for the robbers, who had not been apprehended by midday, according to Lt. Greg Jolley. They were described as white males in their mid-20s.
Police say the robbery is similar to one committed last year at a casino near Jean, Nev., in which smoke bombs were also used. Police described the amount taken in that robbery as ″substantial″; there have been no arrests.
Ms. Shumaker said bystanders feared for their lives.
″Anybody crazy enough to rob a casino is crazy enough to shoot you,″ she said.