How airport theft rings work

how airport theft rings work
how airport theft rings work

How airport theft rings work | With increasing numbers of tourists worldwide, large-scale airport robbery rings spread, too. Examples: In April 2016 several news agencies wrote about an american woman held in custody for operating a robbery ring at a United States airport.

About one year ago the Wall Street Journal published the story of a car theft ring in NYC’s airports. The thieves used rental cars and fake IDs to steal private cars from airport lots and ship them to Africa. The alleged car-theft ring, outlined in a Bronx grand jury’s indictment, allegedly involved 14 suspects and 70+ stolen vehicles, ranging from luxury models, such as BMW, Porsche and Mercedes to the less-pricey Toyota Camry.

airport-theft-2010-2014
Airport theft statistics: 2010-2014. How airport theft rings work.

On the last day of December 2015 police in Rome, Italy exposed an art theft ring. Airport employees were accused of pilfering two works by Ugo Attardi and Renato Guttuso – both well-known 20th-century Italian painters – valued at more than $55,000. But investigations hint at a much bigger operation involving several employees at Rome’s main hub bent on stealing artworks to sell on the black market.

On October 13, 2016 a former aviation company owner pleads guilty for stealing from Miami-Dade Aviation Department. Luis Ramirez, the former president, vice president, secretary and sole owner of Aviation Main Services, Inc., was charged with organised scheme to defraud over $50,000 and grand theft over $100,000.

If you google the subject of stealing at airports you will find a decent amount of articles about it. Some sources even show footage from hidden cameras of baggage handlers going on shopping sprees through passengers’ luggage. In the United States alone there were almost 31,000 claims filed with the TSA for missing valuables lost in checked luggage from 2010 to 2014 with a value of about $2.5 million. And that just counts those who bothered to file a claim. New York had the most claims, followed by Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami. Just recently Miami police arrested 31 baggage handlers and ramp workers for stealing from 2012 through 2015. Meanwhile CNN reported that the TSA had fired 513 officers for theft since 2002.

The woman held in custody for operating a robbery ring, was under police investigation for a long time. She revealed how she and her accomplices have made a living stealing valuables from air travellers. Her work as an aircraft cleaner allowed her to comb planes after passengers had disembarked. She made a living off the loot she found. This woman is just one of many – operating as part of a wide scale theft ring involving employees and management at all major US airports. Flight mechanics and other airline staff are allegedly in on the action, too. It was the first such police investigation into robberies from overhead compartments.

The woman has admitted to stealing “just a tablet” — but using common sense we know she took more than that. She said valuables could easily be found under or beneath seat cushions, and with no one watching, they were too easy to snatch. “Every day, passengers leave articles, different things. Sometimes IDs, money, toys. Mostly iPads, Kindles, electronics every day.”

Electronic devices getting nicked at airports might not seem to be a big deal. But US airport police officials say: any such crime by an airport employee could be a threat because the person has access to secure areas, including aircrafts.

Not just airport theft is on the rise. Thieves not only strike just when passengers have departed a plane. In-flight theft has been on the rise internationally over the past few years, both by airline staff and other passengers. Australian Federal Police issued a warning to overseas travellers last year in relation to a spike in items reported stolen in flights — mostly from overhead lockers. The most targeted items were media devices, jewellery, purses and cash.

Video about Airport Theft in India

Mile-high theft is also becoming a big problem in Asia. Examples: flights to Hong Kong and the Philippines. There have been reports of organised theft rings operating on these Asian routes. In 2015, a flight attendant was arrested for stealing $6430 in donations intended for UNICEF, while in 2013 the FBI got involved when $1.6 million was discovered stolen from a Swiss jet after it landed in New York.

What do we learn from all this craziness? Keep valuables in a bag under the seat in front of you, and take that bag with you on trips to the toilet. Turn your hand luggage in overhead compartments upside down or in such a way that potential thieves can’t reach the zipper. Don’t sleep. Even better: don’t even fly, but stay at home. Use Google Map Sattelite mode for virtually travelling to your dream destination.

Back in 2012: Ivan Ramos steals the Rolex a passenger left behind at baggage screening, Police charged Ramos with one count of grand theft after a surveillance video of him looking around, then taking the watch, and casually walking away made him an instant international TV celebrity.
Back in 2012: Ivan Ramos steals the Rolex a passenger left behind at baggage screening, Police charged Ramos with one count of grand theft based on a surveillance video of him. It made him an instant international TV celebrity.

How airport theft rings work. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Visit our Travel Alphabet.