Updated at 12:18 AM EST on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015
Anne Arundel County Police have investigated a series of car thefts at Maryland Live! Casino since early 2013, including at least one bold theft caught on casino surveillance video, according to a review by the News4 I-Team.
In at least two of the cases, the cars were stolen from the casino’s valet service. Though both cars were recovered, the I-Team found neither of the thieves has been located by police.
In an August 2014 incident, Manassas resident Mandel Way reported his 2012 Acura was stolen while he gambled inside the Hanover casino during overnight hours, according to the police report. Way told police he gave the keys to the casino valet and returned to find the car missing. The valet service told officers they had mistakenly given Way’s car to a woman with an old, incorrect valet ticket, the police report said. Despite the mix-up, the woman nevertheless drove away with Way’s car, the police report said. Way recovered the car more than one month later. An arrest has not been made.
In January 2013, surveillance video shows a male thief taking Larry McMichael’s car from the Maryland Live! valet service. According to the video and an Anne Arundel County police report, McMichael parked his 2005 Audi just after 5 p.m. one evening. Less than two hours later, McMichael returned to the valet and discovered his car missing. The surveillance footage, obtained under a public records request by the News4 I-Team, shows an unknown man walking through several sections of the garage. That same man later is seen entering a car matching McMichael’s description and driving away in it. The police report said the valet service had just moved McMichael’s car before the theft. The report said the valet “pulled Mr. McMichael’s vehicle up to the valet stand’s curb where it was left until it could be parked in a parking space. The keys and paperwork were left in the vehicle.”
The I-Team’s review found at least five other recent investigations into suspected car thefts at Maryland Live! Those thefts are some of the 98 reported car thefts in Hanover during the same two-year period of time, according to Anne Arundel County Police records.
Baltimore police also reported one auto theft on the grounds of the new Horseshoe Casino in the weeks since its opening Aug. 26, 2014.
Both McMichael and Way told the I-Team they were surprised that their vehicles were stolen on the grounds of a casino, because, each said, casinos are known to have intense security.
Way said, “It’s been a nightmare, it’s been crazy,” Way said.
“(The valet) came out and told me, ‘I think we made a mistake. We gave your car to the wrong person,’” he said.
“The valet manager came (back to the casino) from home and explained it to me and apologized,” McMichael said.
Both McMichael and Way would later recover their cars, but not before incurring large costs similar to those of other car theft victims, according to the I-Team’s review. McMichael said he lost $1200 in towing fees, key replacement and storage fees for his stolen car.
Way didn’t recover his stolen car until more than a month after it was taken. He purchased a new car in the meantime.
“Our security team consists of more than 200 officers, including numerous off-duty uniformed police, who are consistently on patrol in and around the property and parking garage every day,” a spokeswoman for Maryland Live! said. “In addition, high-tech surveillance cameras cover just about every inch of the facility. With such highly sophisticated resources at our disposal, as well as a substantial security force, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to perpetrate a crime on our property and get away with it.”
“Horseshoe Baltimore offers a free parking garage with more than 3,000 spaces to ensure no one needs to street park,” a spokesman for Horseshoe Casino said. “Also, just-released figures by the Baltimore City Police Department indicate overall crime in the casino district is down 16 percent on a year-over-year basis.”
Maryland state gaming officials release periodic reports detailing crimes that occur inside the state’s six casinos. Those reports include theft cases, alcohol-related complaints and underage gambling incidents.