Wynn Macau Thief Arrested but the $6M in Chips Still Not Found

A man accused of stealing $6 million in chips from Wynn Casinos in Macau has been arrested, following a two-day search. The 49 year old, named Lei, was taken in alongside his uncle Ho, a security guard which is suspected of being an accomplice.

Last Tuesday, to the annoyance of Wynn Casinos and to the delight of anyone who loves a good heist story, a man stole $6 million worth in chips from Wynn Macau. The suspected thief, whose identity was quickly confirmed using security footage, had quietly stuffed 30 chips in his bag before walking out of the casino at the end of his shift at 7 AM.

Such thefts are relatively common in casinos around the world, and this is not the first one to happen in Macau recently. Indeed, the last published annual crime report for the territory lists casino-related crime increasing in 2016. The 2017 report will be published soon.

Usually, the suspects are caught without great difficulty, especially due to the strict surveillance measures in operation at every casino. In this case, the scale of the theft and the social media reaction that followed made this a particularly troublesome case for the local police.

Indeed, the police encountered some issues very early into the investigation: a ‘Wanted’ style poster including a picture of the suspect and personal information had somehow been released to the public, in defiance of strict privacy and data protection laws. Furthermore, social media rumors started going around that the suspect was armed and dangerous, which caused some panic in the community.

The people behind the picture were identified as three employees of the casino, who claim that the document had been created and distributed for the internal casino security department. They were arrested on the 18th of January, and could face charges up to two years in prison for breach of judicial confidentiality.

Lei and Ho were located that night, when they were arrested at a local park. Only HK$20 (approximately $2,500 USD) worth of chips were found, and the suspects have refused to say anything about the remaining money. For them to have got actual money from the chips, they would have had to eventually return to the casino to cash them in.

Lei has confessed to the crime, stating that he has had gambling problems for a while and that he was in significant debt. He had been working at the casino since 2009. His uncle Ho, has refused any connection with the crime.

Representatives from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) have met with the leaders of other high-profile casinos, and the association has urged Wynn Casinos to conduct a full investigation of the incident in order to learn from what happened.

This comes after a string of concerning casino heists which took place in Las Vegas in the first half of January, where both New York-New York and Ellis Island have been robbed at gunpoint. Last November, a similar attack happened at the Bellagio. None of the suspects from these heists has been identified, and they are all still at large.