LAX Baggage Handlers Took Whatever They Wanted From Bags for Months

For months, baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport treated luggage conveyor belts like a buffet line, pocketing electronics, jewelry, and other valuable items from checked bags and selling them on Craigslist.

Police arrested eight handlers after serving 25 warrants at LAX earlier today, recovering stolen jewelry, electronics, clothing and other personal belongings.

Just how much was stolen is still being determined. "We are talking thousands upon thousands of dollars," Gannon said. "Basically everything of value be it electronics, jewelry and items that could be stolen in seconds would be removed from bags. ... They'd just open up the suitcases and rifle through them and pocket valuables."

Gannon said most of the thefts occurred at the end of a complex system of conveyor belts that deliver luggage. As the suitcases are loaded into carts on a platform, the suspects would search them for items they could quickly sell.

In all, 14 employees are suspected of participating in the rampant theft, and police say it was an accepted practice among employees in Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley International terminal.

"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," LAPD Captain Ray Maltez told KABC-TV.

Multiple companies are contracted to handle baggage at LAX and theft is not uncommon, but police began investigating after the airport noticed one company, Menzies Aviation, experiencing an unusual number of theft reports.

The company released a statement saying it supported "this enforcement action" and that the theft was limited to a "handful" of employees."

[image via AP]