There could be a movie or TV show made about a recent arrest for theft in Las Vegas. In late June, Erik Gutierrez-Martinez was arrested on two counts of theft of more than $100,000.
An investigation into Martinez started on June 17 when Las Vegas police learned he contacted the casino cage at Circa Resort & Casino impersonating the owner of the casino, Derek Stevens. According to police reports, Martinez told the cage that he needed to make an “emergency payment to the fire department for fire safety devices.” There were actually multiple payments including $314,000, $350,000, and $500,000.
There were a few smaller payments as well. The result was a $1.17 million loss for Circa.
Martinez was arrested the following day and most of the money was recovered. Evidently, Martinez also attempted this scam at another Nevada casino in Mesquite. He’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 24.
Dropoff locations help identify the casino thief
The employee in the cashier cage at Circa thought she was speaking to Stevens at first. However, she was also texting her direct manager at the downtown Las Vegas casino.
The employee was first told to deposit money into a Bitcoin ATM at a nearby gas station with the first payment. She then met a man posing as Stevens’ lawyer for the other payments.
One dropoff location was an auto parts store. The other was a restaurant where she met the same person impersonating Stevens.
Once the police identified Martinez as a suspect they obtained a search warrant and found a “large bag of U.S. currency bundled together with the name Circa written on the bundle.”
More Las Vegas casino robberies
This Circa incident isn’t the only million-dollar robbery in Las Vegas over the years. We’re talking about real crimes, not Oceans 11 or Oceans 13, although each could also be part of a TV show or movie.
In 1993, Circus Circus was robbed for $3.1 million. Heather Tallchief and Roberto Solis technically were the thieves. However, Tallchief did all the work.
She took a job for Loomis Armored, an armored truck company that worked with many Las Vegas casinos. She ditched the other guards in the truck and took off with the money. Easy peasy.
The duo got away with it, but Tallchief turned herself into the police 12 years after the crime. Netflix wound up profiling this theft on an episode of the series “Heist.”
In 2010, a man known as the “Biker Bandit” stole $1.5 million from Bellagio. Anthony Carleo was a little more brazen with his crime.
Carleo walked into the Bellagio wearing a motorcycle helmet after parking his motorcycle by the valet area. He went directly to a craps table and waved a gun around at the dealers. He walked back out the front door with $1.5 million in Bellagio chips.
He previously pulled a similar stunt about 20 minutes away from the Vegas Strip at the Suncoast Casino in Summerlin. He only stole $20,000 in this robbery.
There was no way he could get away with the Bellagio heist as he left the casino with $25,000 in cranberry chips. The casino tracked which players used these chips. Carleo or anyone else trying to cash the chips that were not on Bellagio’s list would be caught.
Resorts World Las Vegas stands where Stardust once operated on the north end of the Vegas Strip. In 1992, the Stardust was robbed twice.
William Brennan was a cashier at Stardust and was in charge of counting the take for the sportsbook. Instead of depositing the cash and chips, he filled a duffle bag and walked out of the casino.
His take on this night was worth $500,000. Brennan was never caught and the police closed the case in 2006 when the casino closed.
Earlier in the year, there was another inside job by a security guard. Royal Mayne Hopper, Jr. and his two sons stole $1.1 million from the Stardust.
Once again, Loomis Armored was involved. This time, the robbers stole from the employees of the armored car company while making a pickup.
Hopper and his sons threw smoke bombs near the cage to distract the security guards on duty. They robbed the guards and walked away with $500,000 cash and $600,000 in negotiable checks, for a total of $1.1 million.