I-Team: New breed of criminal on the Las Vegas Strip

By George Knapp , Matt Adams | madams@8newsnow.com

Published 02/08 2016 10:15AM

Updated 02/08 2016 10:24AM

Trick rolls that turn into assaults and robberies. It's happening every single night on the Las Vegas Strip. Metro Police are struggling to cope with a new wave of serious crime in the resort corridor. Officers and detectives are stretched to the limit because of organized thievery and violence.

To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi ... "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

Over the weekend, visitors in town for the Super Bowl were being eyed as targets by a new breed of criminal that preys on the tourism corridor. 

The I-Team tagged along for a few nights as seasoned officers tried to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

"Walking on bridge, it's kind of a circus up here man," said Officer Calvin Wandick, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

For him and the other uniformed officers who patrol the Strip every night, on the bridges, the sidewalks, and the streets, it's like a convention of thieves and lowlifes. 

The tens of thousands of visitors in town at any given moment are an irresistible magnet for criminals of all stripes. The best Metro can hope is to interact with and intercept as many as possible.

"What's going on chief? You got any more weed on you?"

"You got people walking over here, winnings in their pockets in the high thousands," Wandick said. "The guy sees the opportunity, he's going to take it."

One stretch of sidewalk outside Planet Hollywood could keep the entire squad busy all night. It's thick with hustlers and drug peddlers, but the team also marches into hotels to disrupt and scatter the trick roll experts who are now a regular fixture in and around the nightclubs. Prostitution these days is more about robberies than sex. Within 10 minutes, six suspects were corralled.

"Prostitution is at a whole different level than any of us have ever seen up here on the Strip. It's really taken over. It's exploded," said Metro Sgt. Mike Ford.

He runs one of two detective teams who do nothing but work serious crimes in and around the Strip corridor. More than half of the felonies and acts of violence are linked to the robbery rings that use prostitutes as bait.  Gangs, teams of pickpockets, major drug operations, auto theft up and down the Strip are nightly realities.

"The tourists, the people that are at home don't come to the Strip, they don't see it and they don't pay attention to it," Sgt. Ford said.

Over the course of a single shift, the detectives on the Strip see more crime than an entire season of reality cop shows.

"You been running from the cops tonight? Look at me and be straight up and don't lie to me," Sgt. Ford says to suspect.

During the nights the I-Team spent with both teams, the officers moved from one serious crime to the next and the only time they slowed down is when they needed someone to come and transport the suspects to jail.
They do a great job but they need help.

Be sure to watch more on Monday night at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. when the I-Team takes you a long for a view of the Strip that few ever see.
 

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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