Two Sea-Tac luggage handlers arrested for theft
They are accused of stealing everything from cigarettes to laptops and officials are looking into whether it's just the tip of an iceberg.
Two young baggage handlers suspected of stealing cigarettes, laptops and credit cards were arrested last week in two separate incidents that have Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials looking into whether those thefts are just the tip of an iceberg.
Bob Parker, airport spokesman, said a 22-year-old man was arrested on Thursday last week after an investigation by Port of Seattle detectives into the suspect's cigarette selling side business.
"He was selling a lot of cigarettes and detectives initially thought he was selling them for somebody who got them off a truck or something, but it turns out he was going through the luggage and taking anything he thought he could sell," said Parker.
The second arrest, of a 22-year-old on Friday, resulted from an investigation into the theft of a credit card, Parker said.
When a 22-year-old man tried to use a credit card at a shop in Bellevue, police were called and the credit card owner said she'd last seen her card when she was at the airport.
Surveillance tapes from the Bellevue store were shown to supervisors in baggage handling who were able to identify the 22-year-old.
Both suspects work for Menzies Aviation, which handles ground services for Alaska Airlines, Parker said.
"Menzies was extremely cooperative," Parker said.
Menzies Aviation spokesman John Fulford confirmed the arrests and said they were possible because of information the company provided to airport police.
"The arrests result from proactive action taken by Menzies, Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle. Menzies and Alaska Airlines hold regular security briefings," said the company in a statement released today. "As a result of one such briefing, Menzies was able to provide information to the Port of Seattle police that resulted in these arrests."
Menzies and Alaska Airlines said they have a zero-tolerance policy in dealing with theft and they will continue to work with the Port of Seattle police on the issue.
Parker said the port is trying to identify the extent of the problem.
"We will follow this and see where it goes and whether it is widespread or isolated," said Parker.
Last December in Houston, seven Menzies employees were arrested after 68 suitcases that had been looted were found in a dumpster. Fulford said those arrests also resulted from information provided to police by Menzies.
Parker said the problem is exacerbated because people often report lost or stolen items to the airlines rather than the airports. In addition, it's sometimes hard to pinpoint at which airport the items were pilfered.
If someone is flying from Miami to Seattle with a layover in Salt Lake City, you have to figure out whether the theft occurred in Miami, or Salt Lake, although that's less likely, or in Seattle, he said.
"We find that people often make a claim for an item to the airline, but never report it to the airport or the police, and then we don't know that a theft problem is developing," said Parker.
Parker asked that people who believe they have had items stolen at the airport in Seattle and who have not yet reported the theft to police to call the airport at 206-433-5400.
"We need to hear from you," Parker said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com
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