NEW ORLEANS -- A recent burglary from the safe of a Bourbon Street nightclub stands as one of the largest heists in recent New Orleans history.
But it's not the $57,000 recovered from the March 26 burglary of the Bourbon Cowboy that's so eye-opening. It's the amount that has yet to be recovered.
According to a police report, nearly $593,814 in a variety of denominations was stolen, leaving about $530,000 missing.
With no signs of forced entry or damage to the back room safe, police immediately suspected an inside job.
Using several different camera angles from the business’s surveillance cameras in the 200 block of Bourbon Street, Detective James Shepack of the 8th Police District zeroed in on a longtime maintenance man who can be seen entering the business with an unzipped jacket, then leaving the building with the jacket zipped and bulging.
“The jacket is zipped up concealing an extremely large object,” Shepack wrote in an application for an arrest warrant.
Vincent Randazzo, 43, was arrested at his home in New Orleans East on April 3, several days after the money was discovered missing.
Detectives served Randazzo with search warrants on his home and vehicles. In the back of a recently purchased pickup truck, the officers found the $57,000 in cash stuffed into a pillow case.
The detectives later determined that the truck had recently been purchased by Randazzo with $3,500 cash, according to Lt. Anthony Caprera.
The truck and the money were confiscated. Based on the very particular way in which the bills were sorted and bundled, the officers arrested Randazzo.
“It is consistent in packaging with the way the victim described the money that was taken from the scene,” Caprera said.
So how did Randazzo allegedly pull it off?
For years, Randazzo worked at the Bourbon Cowboy and an adjoining bar called The Beach. According to police, he had full access to the businesses, but more importantly, he knew when money would be stored in the safe and when the owners would be out of town.
The money was stolen when the primary owner was on vacation, according to a police report.
Investigators believe that Randazzo used a hole cut into the ceiling to spy on the owners as they used the combination lock to open the safe.
Randazzo, who is free after posting a $32,000 bond, could not be reached for comment. He also was booked with possession of marijuana, which was found in Randazzo’s new truck.
Police, meanwhile, said their investigation is far from over. In addition to strengthening their case against Randazzo, and possibly others, detectives will continue to try and locate the missing money.
“The case is still ongoing,” Caprera said. “We're still running down leads in this case and we're still hoping there's potential for additional arrests. We just have to see where it takes us."
To assist the NOPD, the owners have hired private investigators to try and find the stolen money, and they are offering up to a $25,000 reward for its recovery. Anyone with information can call the investigators at 504-455-6077. Callers may remain anonymous.