Press coverage of crime stories in Las Vegas can be curious, even inscrutable. Or worse.
Here is an example from just this week:
“How Did A Man Rob A Las Vegas Casino For $500K And Get Away With It?” blared the internet iteration of this dramatic “True Crime” tale!
Another sensational, harrowing story of mayhem in shadowy Sin City, “ripped from the headlines”!
Well, actually, no.
In reality, the story is about a guy who authorities are pretty sure walked out of work one night after filling his pockets. Oh, the humanity – I mean – the banality!
Did they say “1992”?
Notwithstanding the report’s repeated use of the term “robbery“, there were no weapons used, no threats issued, no force employed. In short, no robbery at all.
And the “$500,000” sum reported stolen was actually less than half that – $225,000. The rest was casino chips.
Ahhh, there’s the rub. What made this story so exciting, so full of suspense, was the victim – the Stardust Casino sports book!
Gee, maybe it was a mob heist! Present day Vegas seems positively nostalgic over the so-called glamour of Old Vegas. (See: the Mob Museum) Was that it?
Nahh. The former manager of the sportsbook described the suspect, William Brennan, as “mild-mannered”, not the type he’d expect to “mastermind” such a crime, were masterminding required. He opined that, like so many residents of this city, it may have been a gambling habit that prompted Brennan to walk out the door with a little something extra that Monday night in 1992.
No orders from “the boys” in New York, Chicago, or Kansas City. Not this time. Shucks.
The headline also pondered breathlessly “How Did He Get away With It?”
Well, actually, there’s no evidence that he did.
Sure, he walked out that night with the money and chips. But there’s been no trace of either him or the proceeds since. Casino chips are non-negotiable instruments, and assuming Brennan did steal the colorful little plastic circles, any attempt to unload them would have necessary involved shady characters. And may well have been his undoing – that could explain 26 years of silence. Taking the loot and walking out the door only to get yourself killed would not constitute “getting away with it” in my view.
The report also mentioned that the investigation was closed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office – back in 2006 – the year the Stardust closed. Mission Not Accomplished. Fascinating!
I would like to think there is some shrewd master plan on the part of law enforcement behind the obviously orchestrated timing of this “Blast from the Past”. Has some newly discovered evidence breathed life back into the case? Is the vaunted FBI merely tickling the wire?
Otherwise, why in the world rehash and over-blow a not very sensational story from 1992 in the first place?
The practice of exaggerating the news sometimes comes perilously close to manufacturing the news – the product of which is widely known in some circles as ….you guessed it.