Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2016

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Suspect’s earlobe was key clue in Venetian chip-heist arrest

Akingide Cole

Akingide Cole

It could have been the perfect crime.

In the early morning of Oct. 10, a man walked into the Venetian casino and walked out unnoticed less than half an hour later with $1.6 million in stolen chips and cash stuffed into a plastic bag.

The theft wasn’t discovered by casino staff for nearly 24 hours, and police had only security footage of a man with a large, bulbous growth on his left earlobe to work with.

A photo of the man was spread throughout the Metro Police Department, and a corrections officer at the Clark County Detention Center recognized him as Akingide Cole, who had been held at the jail more than a year earlier, according to an arrest report released Tuesday.

Nearly two weeks after the theft, the 31-year-old Cole was arrested near his mother’s Southern California home in connection with the heist.

He has been charged with felony burglary, felony grand larceny charges and misdemeanor possession of burglary tools.

According to the report, Cole allegedly entered the Venetian shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 10 and walked into an employees-only hallway in the back of the casino.

He then found his way to a room in the Salon, a private gaming area at the casino, where a locked box of chips sat on top of a blackjack table that hadn’t been used for weeks, the report said.

Camera footage showed the suspect making several attempts to open the box before leaving the room and returning several minutes later with a hammer, police said.

Using the hammer, the suspect was able to open the box and began putting chips into his pockets and a plastic bag, the report said.

A total of $1,600,627 was stolen, including 36 $25,000 chips, 97 $5,000 chips and 152 $1,000 chips, the report said.

The man left the casino at 6:05 a.m., according to police, but not before cashing nine of the $100 chips on his way out.

He then hailed a cab, and was dropped off near an apartment less than 3 miles away, police said.

The theft was discovered on Oct. 11 around 4:45 a.m. when a Venetian employee noticed a discrepancy in the inventory while closing out tables, the report said.

Police were notified and, upon reviewing surveillance footage, began looking for the man with the large growth on his left earlobe.

Police were able to identify the suspect when a CCDC corrections officer recognized him as Cole, who had been held at the jail in August 2011, based on a photo that was distributed throughout the department.

Police were able to further verify Cole’s identity using a CCDC booking photo and a Nevada driver's license he obtained in February of this year, the report said.

Police arrested Cole in Southern California on Oct. 24 and recovered $396,000 in chips.

Cole is currently awaiting extradition to Nevada, police said.

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