Thursday, July 21, 2011

Theft from travelers and their Luggage

Theft from travelers and their bags, is as old as time itself, it goes back to the nomads and the caravans; however the mode of travel have changed over time, and so have the method of taking advantage of the unassuming and weary traveler. This posting is not an indictment against the TSA or the baggage handlers nor is it intended to denigrate them, it is just a bit of information for those who travel,and to ensure that they use common sense when they do get on the road or up in the air.Today, theft from the travelers can and often begins at the cubs side drop off check in and continue on to the TSA, and those who put the travelers bags on the plane, that is if they are traveling by plane,the bus or train is the same.Take a look at the following stories from the news headlines and govern yourself accordingly, a word to the wise should be sufficient:
Airline supervisor pleads guilty to Portland baggage theft
Northwest Airlines, now Delta baggage supervisor stole checked luggage at Portland airport; faces 18 months in prison. By The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — A former Northwest Airlines baggage supervisor at Portland International Airport has pleaded guilty to stealing checked luggage. Bridgett Bunnell pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft and theft by receiving on Monday. Under a plea deal, the 44-year-old Molalla woman is expected to serve 18 months in prison. She is to be sentenced Nov. 3. Prosecutors accused Bunnell of stealing more than $10,000 worth of luggage, then posting some of the stolen goods on the Internet for sale. A co-defendant, 46-year-old Jose Trejo Romero, a former Northwest Airlines baggage handler, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft last week. Under a similar plea agreement, Romero also will face 18 months in prison
St. Louis airport theft ring busted, Updated 3/20/2009. By Jim Salter, Associated Press Writer

ST. LOUIS — Eight contract baggage handlers for Delta Airlines rifled through hundreds of bags of luggage at Lambert Airport over a period of more than a year, stealing some 900 items ranging from laptops and iPods to cologne and cigarettes, airport police said Thursday. Formal charges have not been filed, and names of the suspects were not released. Airport Police Chief Paul Mason said the workers were employed by St. Louis-based Huntleigh USA, hired by Delta to handle baggage. Huntleigh chief executive officer Richard Sporn said all eight workers were fired. "It clearly is an unfortunate situation and we are distressed by the news," Sporn said. "Unfortunately we are not the first for something like this to happen. All we can do is learn from this and try to make sure it doesn't happen again." At a news conference at the airport, most of the recovered items were laid out on tables. The thieves targeted expensive goods, mostly electronic devices, games, computers and computer equipment. There also were more mundane items — cartons of cigarettes, battery chargers, even cologne. Mason asked anyone who believes they were victimized to call a special hot line: 314-890-1822. Victims will be asked to somehow prove stolen items are theirs. For example, they may be asked to cite directions on a stolen GPS, or songs on a stolen iPod. Delta said in a written statement that it was working with authorities on the case. A spokeswoman declined to elaborate and would not say if the Atlanta-based airline would consider ending its contract with Huntleigh. Airport police track all reports of stolen items from luggage, and Mason said the thefts apparently began 12 to 15 months ago. In January, airport detective Eric Williams noticed a pattern. A tip from an airport employee confirmed his suspicion that workers at the airport were stealing. Williams developed suspects and began interviewing them earlier this month. Mason said the suspects admitted to the crime and even led authorities to a home in Jersey County, Ill., where one of the suspects lives. Many of the stolen goods were found at that home. Mason said the workers were opening bags before placing them on outbound flights. "They were carrying (stolen items) out in their coats, or fannypacks, or backpacks," he said. Huntleigh provides baggage handling services at Lambert only for Delta. Mason said the thefts have raised concerns for other airlines, too, though he believes it was an isolated incident. "I've been here 20 years and this is the first time we've had anything of this magnitude," he said.Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Sting nabs sticky-fingered JFK airport workers going through luggage,  BY Wil Cruz  DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER  Wednesday, July 15th 2009, 12:08 AM

A sting captured by security cameras nabbed two sticky-fingered airport workers who swiped electronics planted by authorities, officials said. Brian Burton, 27, and Antwon Simmons, 26, stole a laptop and cell phone from the decoy luggage as it moved through Kennedy Airport, Port Authority officials said. "When air travelers check their luggage with an airline, there is an implicit trust that their bags and their contents will meet them at their destination," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. "The defendants are accused of betraying that trust."  Burton, an officer with the Transportation Security Administration, was videotaped July 7 pilfering through the Miami-bound suitcase in an airport screening room while Simmons, a baggage handler, looked on. The thieves also switched the luggage tags, hoping to conceal their handiwork, officials said. The suitcase was a trap set by the Transportation Security Administration and Delta Air Lines. They stuffed the luggage with a lap top, an iPod and two cell phones, prosecutors said. The pilfering pair - who had been on cops' radar, a source said - took the bait, failing the so-called integrity test. Burton, of Queens, and Simmons, of Brooklyn, were awaiting arraignment last night on charges of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and falsifying business records. They face up to four years in prison if convicted.
How to Get Through Airport Security Faster
Airport security is a traveler's rite of passage: the long lines, the ID check, the shuffling of personal items. Get through security faster with these easy strategies. By JD Rinne, Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Pack like you're making lasagna: (no, seriously!) You probably don't want a security official inspecting your carry-on bag by hand. Time-consuming inspections usually only happen when an x-ray machine operator can't identify items. Avoid this hassle by packing in a way that keeps your curling iron, hair dryer, and other hard-plastic or dense items separate in your bag, instead of allowing them to get tangled in a pile—and look suspiciously like a bomb or a weapon on an X-ray scan. Layer your electronics and toiletries in between your clothes like you're spreading ricotta cheese in between strips of pasta to prepare lasagna. Put heavy clothes on top to act as a weight and secure loose items.

Remember the 3-1-1 rule: If you plan to go carry-on only, any liquid should be kept in a 3.4-ounce bottle or smaller. You're only allowed as many bottles as can fit in one quart-size, clear ziplock bag. Find bottles in your local drugstore's travel or $1 section, or online. Buying products packaged in small amounts can be expensive: We recently found face wash in a two-ounce bottle for for $9, shaving cream for about $6, and contact lens solution for $10.50. By transferring your liquids from standard-size bottles into TSA-friendly containers, like our favorite squishy bottles from, you should save a lot of money. Try the GoToob squishy bottles from for storing your liquids.
Dress for success: Slip-on shoes (preferably with socks; think of the dirty feet that have been on that linoleum), minimal jewelry, and no belt is the standard uniform for moving through security fast. If you insist on wearing jewelry and a watch on the plane, take them off and slip them into a pocket in your carry-on before you enter the security cordon.
Use flight-ready toiletries: Keep your travel bag stocked with "flight ready" items that don't break the TSA's liquid rules, such as solid perfume, and lip balm instead of lip gloss.

Buy a TSA-approved laptop bag: The TSA allows laptops to go through the X-ray in checkpoint-friendly laptop bags, like a simple $20 Skooba Skin. The most common and cheapest is a laptop sleeve. Consumer Reports recommends a few here. Laptops are also among the most-forgotten items at security, so label yours with a business card or ID tag.

Keep an eye peeled for new security programs: Fifty airports (including Boston, Chicago, and Seattle) have security lines split among Expert, Casual, and Family travelers. Look for the signs and hit the line that's right for you—we suggest Expert now that you've read our tips. Also, remember that 18 airports and five airlines are currently participating in the Paperless Boarding Pass pilot program. If the program covers your flight, you can go straight to the security checkpoint and use your cell phone as a boarding pass.

IT'S SHOWTIME: Once you've presented your ID and boarding pass, get moving. Find the shortest line—look especially for lines toward your left because studies show that Americans are more likely to turn right than left when entering a building, so lines on the left will tend to be shorter. Grab two bins. The TSA is asking travelers to put shoes directly on the X-ray belt, so do that first. Pull out your quart-size bag of liquids and small electronics (like an iPhone) and lay them on top of your jacket. In the second bin, put your laptop (or, if you've got just got one bag or purse, use this bin for that). After successfully passing through the metal detector (because we know you will), grab your shoes and slip them on, then snag your other belongings and slip them back in your bag. Look around quickly for anything that may have come loose, and then exit the security area to keep the line moving. Bottom line is: if you don't want to lose it, carry it! If you can't carry it, ship it via Fed Ex, or UPS.
"The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see." ~G.K. Chesterton

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