The True Story of Las Vegas….Episode: Thieves robbed the Mob at the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino with fake drop boxes.

By Geno Munari

In the early days of the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino the outside scam artists, that is the guys and gals off the streets and not the owners in the tradition of a skim, beat the Desert Inn in a remarkable bold move that was based on a fake or altered drop box.  A drop box is where the cash is deposited after a customer walks up and buys casino chips from the dealer.  Every casino game has a drop box where the currency is deposited for safe keeping.

Before the shift ends, and this happens three times a day, the new empty drop boxes are put out to be changed for boxes that are full of cash.  This is done so that the currency is promptly put into the casino cage and infiltrated into the accounting policy of the casino, rather than let the cash just sit there for 24 hours a day.  Imagine how much interest is lost on cash just sitting in a box for 24 or 48 hours.

Some slick bold scam artist got a hold of a drop box and created a cardboard (or some other material) side that was painted to look like it was a piece of metal.  The box looked identical to a regular box, however it had a side that could be opened and the cash could be taken out without drawing any suspicion.  When the boxes were being put out, the team found various spots were they could switch the boxes without detection.  They did this on New Year’s Eve, wherein there was a lot of business and plenty of misdirection.  Every blackjack table has the drop box close to where the player sits, and this location is not exact, but varies according to the table manufacturer.  In the case of the Desert Inn, the drop box was conveniently close to the player setting in a position called third base.  Third base would be to the dealer’s right, unlike baseball, if you were standing at home plate, third base would be on your left.  Why it is called third base, I am not sure, but it is.  It was really pretty easy for a player that had a beautiful lady next to him distract the dealer and floorman just enough for the dirty work to be completed.

The thieves picked out New Year’s Eve to pull off the scam and they worked from table to table getting as much cash as possible without getting caught.  The boxes were able to be closed after the money was taken so no one got wise to the bold scam until the boxes were taken off the table.  Who knows, maybe they had a dealer or two that was in with the scam?

When the owners found out what happened, they put the word out real quickly that these people, if caught, wouldn’t see their next New Year’s Eve.

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