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04 November 2009

Phoenix area couple accused of stealing more than 1,000 airline bags - How to protect your baggage

On Monday November 1st, police arrested a Phoenix-area couple who were accused of stealing up to 1,000 bags and other items from the baggage claim areas of Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. The arrests came three weeks after police first observed suspicious behavior near one of the airport's luggage carousels, when one of those who was arrested this week was seen parking his car, taking a piece of luggage from one of the baggage claim carousels, and getting back into his car. Police began conducting surveillance on him after he was arrested on a theft charge and released. A police review of airport surveillance tapes revealed that he may have entered the terminal at least 64 times in the previous few months, but had not taken a flight from that airport in at least a year.

Getting the stolen items back to their rightful owner may be difficult because the suspects stripped off all identifying tags. The suspects may have also sold some of the items at garage sales and swap meets. Police said people who believe they may be victims should call 602-495-7808.

This event was noteworthy only because of the scale of the thefts. The risks that passengers face from baggage theft are not unique to Phoenix. Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport is like many airports in the US and around the world in that once your bags arrive at the baggage carousel, there are no airline or airport employees who check to see if baggage is going to the rightful owner.

Reducing Your Risks
While every passenger is at risk of having a checked bag lost or stolen, There are a number of things that every passenger should do to keep their checked bags from being stolen or to minimize the impact of a lost bag.'s Top Ten Baggage Tips page has a number of suggestions, including:
  • Travel with only carry-on luggage
  • Put your contact information inside and outside every checked bag
  • Immediately report the loss of checked luggage
  • Don't pack valuable items in checked luggage
The kinds of things you should not put in checked bags include medicine, computers, electronic files, legal documents; credit cards, checks, or other financial documents; cash, jewelry, and items of great sentimental value.

Police reported that when they were searching the home of the arrested couple, one of those arrested was attempting to destroy a number of items, including passports, credit cards, and identification cards.

If you plan on avoiding checked baggage problems by taking carry-ons, has additional advice about carry-on baggage, such as checking with the airline ahead of time to find out what their policy and limitations are for bags in the cabin. Even with carry-ons, you should make plans to check that bag. On some smaller aircraft and on very crowded flights, there may not be room for your bag and you may have to check the bag at the last minute. You should prepare for this by keeping valuable items in a smaller bag or container that you can take out of the carry-on and keep with you on the plane.

Compensation for Lost Bags

Should any of your luggage be lost, delayed, stolen, or damaged, you will very likely be eligible for some kind of compensation from the airline or even the airport, but you must act immediately after you find that your bags are missing. also provides advice for how to go about the compensation process.

Related Resources
Hazardous Materials and Prohibited Items

1 comment:

  1. You would think that airlines and airports witht he bag fees and the airport fees charged that an employee could be present at bag claim to verify claimchecks. they seem to have money to put diversity violating dec 25th trees and wresths and play incessant dec 25th music showing no diversity. this costs money that would be better spent protecting baggage of those who pay the airport and airline fees. San Diego is an execellent example of this horrible situation!