Casino winner is beaten and robbed - Sunday 12th of June 2005
Casino Queen employees could not persuade a winner to take a check instead of cash when he won several thousand dollars Monday morning, but their cameras helped identify the robber who followed him home to Overland.
Officers said they were looking Tuesday for a 23-year-old man seen on the tape following the winner from the casino on the East St. Louis riverfront and getting into a car that left the parking lot behind the victim's.
Witnesses to the robbery described a car with the same license number, said Overland Police Chief Jim Herron.
The robber hit the victim, 37, a Vietnamese immigrant, with a beer bottle and grabbed the cash on his front porch about 7 a.m., police said. Officers said he might have been more seriously hurt had his family not checked on the commotion, causing the robber to flee.
The victim had been urged at the casino to accept a cashier's check for his winnings but he insisted on cash, officials said.
Casino officials said they give big winners several options to safely collect their money. Cashiers will provide a check or wire the amount to a bank account. A patron can return to collect the money the next day, when those who saw him win aren't around.
"You are probably less likely to be robbed if you carry out a check than if someone sees you with a large sum of cash," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Elvin Seals, gaming enforcement commander for the eastern district.
Police said patrons are rarely attacked or robbed on casino property because the businesses typically employ well-trained security forces larger than the police departments of some towns. They use hundreds of surveillance cameras, guard towers and undercover officers.
"There is more security at a casino than any sports venue or shopping mall in St. Louis," said Paul Zemitzsch, a spokesman for the Casino Queen.
All casinos offer to have security officers escort patrons to their cars.
"You should use the same judgment you would if you pick up a large amount of money from an ATM machine," Zemitzsch said. "Use common sense. Be aware of what's going on around you."
Herron said people feeling uneasy about safety should call the local police. "One of our officers will meet them at their house and stand by to make sure they are safe," Herron said. "Most police departments would probably do the same."
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