Police ID suspect in $1.6 million chip heist at Las Vegas casino

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 publicâ
AP Photo/The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Akingide Cole
AP Photo/The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

(CBS/AP) LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas police are looking for a 31-year-old Southern California man they believe sneaked into a restricted area at a Las Vegas Strip resort earlier this month and stole $1.6 million in high-denomination casino chips.

Akingide Cole, of Palmdale, Calif, is wanted on suspicion of burglary, grand larceny and unlawful possession of burglary tools stemming from the heist at the Venetian resort, police said Monday.

But it's unlikely the robber will be able to redeem the high-value chips, which are usually circulated among a small group of high-rollers.

"In any of these thefts of chips, it's very difficult to cash these in," said Nevada Gaming Control Board Chief of Enforcement Jerry Markling. "Licensees generally know who their customers are."

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.

Because of internal protocol that would flag the biggest chips, the redeemable value of the stash is estimated at $10,000, according to Ron Reese, spokesman for The Venetian's parent company, Las Vegas Sands.

Police didn't disclose exactly how the theft occurred, but they said no weapon was involved, and the man didn't confront anyone during the incident, which happened about 6 a.m. on Oct. 10.

Police are seeking information on the whereabouts of the suspect, who is described as 6 feet tall and weighing about 225 pounds. Cole last had a goatee and short dark hair in a semi-mohawk and police said he has a distinctive fibrous growth on his left earlobe.