You’ve heard of the poker player who tossed counterfeit chips into a tournament at the Borgata in New Jersey? You’ll probably also remember that he was caught when he flushed a bunch of chips down the hotel toilet.
And you’ve probably also heard about the motorcyclist who rode up to the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas and stole a million or so in chips. He was eventually caught too.
There are dozens and dozens of stories about casino crimes that are eventually solved, with the perpetrators brought to justice. For the most part, law enforcement is pretty great at cracking cases, especially when hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, are involved.
But there’s still one Las Vegas case that hasn’t been solved. And this week, we’re celebrating its huge anniversary.
22 years ago this week, Bill Brennan walked out of the Stardust Casino as he did every single day for the four years leading up to that day. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except for the fact that he was carrying $507,361 in cash and casino chips. And he didn’t return to his job as a sportsbook cashier after leaving.
When police searched his home, they found no trace of Brennan, nor any trace of his cat, with whom Brennan shared an apartment. He was a bit of a loner, but the fact that his apartment was vacant and his cat was missing signaled to authorities that Brennan was the culprit.
Brennan was never found. That’s not surprising because the casino employee was also never caught actually stealing the money. He managed to evade surveillance and he went undetected as he snagged the loot.
There are two theories at play. First, it’s possible that Brennan took off with the cash and fled the country. Perhaps south to Mexico. Perhaps north to Canada. Perhaps on a plane to some exotic island.
The other theory? Brennan was connected with the wrong people who used him to steal the cash and then killed him off. For Brennan’s sake, we’re hoping it’s the former, but when shady activities go down, reality is anyone’s guess.
What fascinates me most about this story is not that he went missing, but that he wasn’t actually seen taking the money and went undetected. In today’s age of Big Brother, a heist of that magnitude is virtually impossible. Of course, that will never stop criminals from trying.
Happy anniversary, Bill Brennan, wherever you are.