November 9, 2011 (Lakeside) – Four masked robbers, armed with guns, pulled off a brazen robbery at Barona Casino early this morning only to leave cash behind in an abandoned Ford Limited edition Explorer SUV. The dark green vehicle had a California license plate of 4NA416 and a CMH bumper sticker.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to a radio call of shots fired at the casino at 2:21 a.m. The armed robbers reportedly placed a steel chain around a display case filled with cash near the front of the casino and attached the chain to a Ford SUV parked outside.
As the suspects attempted to pull the display case from the lobby of the casino, a gun was fired, with one round of unknown caliber striking the display case.
"The shot was from a .22," said Detective Tom Poulin, adding that a casing was recovered. He added that the loud sound of a chain being dragged may have led some present to mistakenly report hearing multiple shots.
ECM news partner 10 News reports that about 500 people were inside the casino at the time, however no injuries occurred.
The thieves stole an unknown amount of cash. A short time later, the suspect’s abandoned SUV was located approximately one mile from the casino. A bag with cash was recovered inside of the SUV. It is unclear whether additional cash remains missing.
Deputies from the Santee station responded and searched the area, but did not find the suspects.
"We're tracking down where the car came from," Detective Poulin said.
Poulin said the theft is not believed to be related to the theft of a large sum of money recently at the Santa Ysabel Casino. "At that one, they went through the rooftop and it's believed to be an inside job. We don't think this one was," he said of the Barona theft.
Anyone with information is requested to contact the Sheriff's Department or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-580-8477.