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Suspect in casino chip theft arrested in California

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  • AP
    This undated photo released by The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Tourist Crimes Unit shows Akingide Cole. The Las Vegas police is asking for the public’s help in locating Cole. They believe Cole sneaked into a restricted area of the Venetian resort and stole $1.6 million in casino chips on Oct. 10

LAS VEGAS >> A man suspected of sneaking into a restricted area of the Venetian resort and stealing $1.6 million in casino chips was arrested in Southern California, Las Vegas police said today.

Authorities credited media attention about the case for a tip that led them to Palmdale resident Akingide Cole, 31.

Deputies from the San Bernardino and Los Angeles county sheriff’s offices took Cole into custody on Oct. 24, near his mother’s home.

Cole was being sought for investigation of grand larceny, burglary and possession of burglary tools, and is expected to be extradited to Nevada. He is listed at a Los Angeles jail, but jail officials didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking to determine if he has an attorney.

Police didn’t disclose exactly how the theft at the Las Vegas Strip resort occurred, but they said no weapon was involved, and the suspect didn’t confront anyone during the incident about 6 a.m. Oct. 10.

Las Vegas police detectives who traveled to California during the investigation said they recovered about $396,000 in chips. Investigators are likely working on tracking the other missing chips, Officer Laura Meltzer said.

It was unlikely anyone would have been able to redeem all the stolen, high-value chips, which are usually circulated among a small group of high-rollers, said Nevada Gaming Control Board Chief of Enforcement Jerry Markling.

Casinos typically have a second, differently styled set of chips that can be put into circulation after a theft, Markling said. That way, someone trying to play with stolen chips would stand out.

In light of those protocols, casino officials had pegged the redeemable value of the stolen chips at $10,000.

The discreet Venetian theft was a departure from two high-profile Las Vegas heists in recent months. In May, two men wearing wigs walked up to a table at the Bellagio, pepper-sprayed a blackjack dealer, and snatched $115,000 in chips.

A casino supervisor tackled one of the men and retrieved 23 chips worth $5,000 each. The other man got away.

In another at the Bellagio, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet waved a gun and made off with $1.5 million worth of high-value chips nearly two years ago. He was arrested trying to redeem a $25,000 chip.

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