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Thieves steal from luggage in LAX theft ring

By Syra Sharif     Mar 28, 2014 in Travel
Los Angeles - It was reported Thursday that baggage handlers had stolen from bags, part of a months-long investigation into workers stealing items.
In a joint task force between LAX Police and the Los Angeles Police Department, 14 people were detained after searches through the airport and some suspects homes. Six were arrested, though according to LAX Police Chief Pat Gannon as many as 25 could be involved in the scheme. Police report it to be one of the largest property heists in airport history.
The Los Angeles Times reports that crimes such as this are common at airports across the country, though Gannon reported that his department saw a 37% increase in thefts in 2013. Authorities told KABC Los Angeles that the suspects are contract workers from various companies, not employees of LAX.
In a statement Gannon said: “It’s a disappointment, but a fact of life, that sometimes a few people will succumb to the temptations at LAX.” He then added that the actions of a few do not represent the nearly 45,000 people who work for nearly 350 employers at LAX.
The case clearly forces airports to look at how it oversees its workers. The LA Times reports that last month, two ground service workers were convicted of planting dry-ice bombs in an employee bathroom and in a secured tarmac area months before that. The kinds of things that are stolen include anything of value, such as jewelry and electronics. For this incident, NBC LA reported that the thieves “are accused of stealing luggage and other items in terminals, from airplanes and on the tarmac" all of which has been ongoing for months.
Menzies Aviation, the company which sub-contracts LAX workers, echoed Gannon's statements saying that the thefts were “limited to a handful of employees, acting independently." This according to reports in the LA Times and The Associated Press. The first priority is making sure all luggage belonging to travelers is returned to them in tact. The LA Times reports that police have found that some workers took some items home, even selling some on Craigslist. LAX is still working to determine how long the ring was operating and the value of all the stolen property. Police estimate that thousands of items were stolen.
NBC LA reported that police spent the night trying to document items stolen from passengers and will do their best to return them to their rightful owners. The investigation is ongoing.
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