March 28, 2014Busted: Police allege LAX theft ring stole from luggage
Several employees responsible for handling passengers' luggage have been arrested after a months-long investigation into thefts at Los Angeles International Airport, NBC Los Angeles reports.
Authorities tell the station the workers were arrested Wednesday night after police served warrants at 25 locations in connection with the theft of items from airline passengers.
Police allege that the workers stole from fliers' luggage both inside the terminal and as bags were being transported across the airport grounds, according to NBC Los Angeles.
The Associated Press writes "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."
Los Angeles TV station KTLA says investigators participating in Wednesday's raids recovered jewelry, electronics, clothing and other personal belongings believed to be stolen from passengers.
"These items are currently being identified in an attempt to return them to their owners and to assist them in the prosecution of identified suspects," airport police say in a statement to KTLA.
"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 tells KABC-TV.
Most of the arrested workers "were primarily employees or ex-employees of contracting companies hired to handle luggage and do not work for the airport itself," AP writes, citing Assistant Chief Michael Hyams of the airport police.
"It's a disappointment, but a fact of life, that sometimes a few people will succumb to the temptations at LAX," airport police Chief Patrick Gannon is quoted as saying by KTLA. "The actions of these few do not represent the nearly 45,000 individuals who work for the nearly 350 employers at LAX."
L.A. TV stations broadcast footage of police raiding airport terminals Wednesday night as part of the sting. The reports showed numerous people being led out in handcuffs, some wearing the yellow safety vests typical for airport ground workers.
The search activity at LAX centered on the Tom Bradley International Terminal and at Terminal 4, which houses American Airlines, American Eagle and some Qantas flights, according to AP.
Posted by USAtoday.com at 9:36 AM