Arrests In Bag Theft Case At Los Angeles Airport

Arrests In Bag Theft Case At Los Angeles Airport

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Los Angeles, CA -


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police say a $15,000 camera, Gucci bags, and name-brand clothing and jewelry are among the thousands of dollars in valuables stolen by baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport.

Los Angeles police Capt. Raymond Maltez said Thursday that the joint operation with airport police started after police noticed lost and theft reports occurring at the airport more frequently when certain crews handled luggage.

Maltez says while some thieves worked together, most acted on their own, seizing opportunities to pocket items from luggage in transit. He said there was a general culture of acceptance of theft among the baggage handlers.

The thieves targeted bags that were traveling longer distances or had multiple transfers.

Six people have been arrested so far after police served dozens of search warrants Wednesday night.




(FOX 11 / AP) Police served more than two dozen search warrants and made several arrests after a months-long investigation into baggage theft at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.

Detectives and officers from the Los Angeles and airport police departments served warrants and seized property Wednesday night at 25 different locations, including the airport itself and in Los Angeles-area cities, including Inglewood and Paramount, said Assistant Chief Michael Hyams of the airport police.

The investigation, which involved officers going undercover among baggage handlers, began after a string of reports of luggage thefts from terminals, runways and planes, police said.

"We believe that there has been a culture of being able to take property that wasn't theirs, and that's what we want to be able to put a stop to," Capt. Ray Maltez told news media outlets.

Those arrested were primarily employees or ex-employees of contracting companies hired to handle luggage and do not work for the airport itself, Hyams said. The suspects underwent employment and criminal background checks before being authorized to work at the airport, officials said.

Television news showed police raiding airport terminals and leading out several people in handcuffs, many of them wearing yellow reflective safety vests.

Most of the police activity was at the Tom Bradley International Terminal and at Terminal 4, which houses American Airlines, American Eagle and some Qantas flights.

Police set up a mobile command center and jail near the airport to process those arrested.

Detectives seized items including jewelry, electronics, clothing, and other personal belongings believed to be stolen property. Officials will attempt to return the items to their owners.

Every year about 55 million pieces of luggage are checked at LAX, which served nearly 67 million passengers last year.

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