Man arrested in $1.6 million Venetian chip heist


It took Akingide Cole less than 30 minutes Oct. 10 to walk in and out of The Venetian with more than $1.6 million in stolen gambling chips, according to a Las Vegas police report released Tuesday.

More than 22 hours later, the hotel-casino's staff realized it had a problem: The high-value chips were gone and unaccounted for.

Cole, 31, of Palmdale, Calif., was arrested last week near his mother's home in Southern California on charges of grand larceny, burglary and possession of burglary tools, police said. He will be extradited to Las Vegas to face charges.

A warrant report for his arrest detailed how Cole, in 28 minutes, obtained the chips during the early morning. He made no attempt to disguise his face, and his only weapon was a claw hammer he obtained somewhere in the casino.

He used the tool to pry open an unattended tray containing $1,600,627.50 in chips and change from a table in an unattended blackjack room, the report said. His casino caper was caught on camera.

Police said they recovered chips valued at more than $396,000. It's unclear what happened to the remaining $1.2 million in chips.

The report said casino cameras caught Cole entering the resort at 5:36 a.m. Seven minutes later, Cole entered a hallway that was restricted for employees only. That door led to The Salon, a private gaming area where he walked up to table 93 and hit paydirt.

After seeing the chip tray was full, Cole touched the case briefly and then returned with a hammer, security video showed. The report said Cole may have found the hammer in a back hallway, where several construction-type carts were.

Cole struggled to pry the case open. After doing so, he left the room again and returned with two rags and small clear plastic bags, the report said. He placed the chips in the rags and placed them in the bags.

Before Cole left The Venetian, he cashed in nine $100 chips, the report said. It said that Cole stole chips ranging from $1 to $25,000 and that the tray he pried open included 36 $25,000 chips, 97 $5,000 chips and 152 $1,000 chips.

Cameras caught Cole leaving The Venetian at 6:05 a.m.

The report said Venetian employees didn't learn the gambling chips were gone until 4:45 a.m. on Oct. 11.

The theft was discovered when a pit clerk supervisor noticed a discrepancy in the computer system while she was closing the tables. She realized table 93 had an open total of more than $1.6 million and an inventory sheet of $0.

The pit clerk supervisor looked for a credit slip or other paperwork that would explain the discrepancy .

Details of Cole's arrest in California were not released.

But the warrant said police tracked down the taxi driver who drove Cole away from The Venetian. The cabby confirmed the man seen on camera in The Venetian had been in his car the previous day.

Police internally circulated a photo of the suspect taken from footage at The Venetian.

A corrections officer from the Clark County Detention Center recognized Cole from a previous arrest, the report said.

Police then were able to identify him through jail records and his driver's license. They also tracked down his address.

Police spoke with an apartment manager who told investigators Cole had been evicted Sept. 17. The apartment manager told police he had not changed the locks and last saw Cole at the complex on Oct. 9, the day before the heist.

The $1.6 million was slightly more than the $1.5 million in chips stolen by the Bellagio Bandit during an armed robbery in December 2010. Anthony Carleo later was arrested and sentenced to prison after he tried to sell high-value chips to an undercover officer.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Review-Journal reporter Mike Blasky contributed to this report.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.