Caught on camera: Airport employees steal from tourists' luggage

Caught on camera: Airport employees steal from tourists' luggage

It might possibly be every tourists' worst nightmare - to open their luggage upon arriving at their destination and to discover that their valuables are missing.

In a shocking video expose by CNN on April 14, employees from various US airports were seen rifling through checked baggage and taking valuable items out of them.

A hidden camera footage showed a worker taking a wad of cash from a wallet, and in another video clip, a security guard looked the other way while a baggage handler was rummaging through checked bags, said CNN.

Valuable belongings such as electronic gadgets (iPads, iPhones), jewellery, money and cameras were popular items reported stolen by airport employees.

Since 2010 to 2014, a CNN analysis said there were over 30,000 reported claims of missing valuables, with over 25,000 cases reported to be items stolen from checked luggage. More than 5,600 thefts also occurred at security checkpoints.

According to CNN, the estimated total property loss was a staggering US$2.5 million (S$3.4 million) during that research period.

Most of the theft claims happened at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, followed by Los Angeles International, Orlando International and Miami International, according to the analysis.

CNN has advised travellers to pack their expensive belongings into hand-carry luggage.

US police is working to stop these thefts.

In Miami and Orlando, employees are required to be screened through metal detectors.

Over in Los Angeles, police executed search warrants on 25 locations in 2014, said CNN, after reported complaints of thefts in two terminals.

The search led to 16 airport workers being fired.

Patrick Gannon, police chief of Los Angeles International Airport, told CNN that theft was cut by 60 per cent due to the "aggressive investigative work".

Travellers are advised to be prudent as luggage theft is not confined to airport employees, said CNN.

Other reported cases of theft include video footage showing luggage being stolen from the carousels.

These cases are "relatively low", said CNN, but it "continues to be a problem".

wjeanne@sph.com.sg

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