Airport Police: Man Stole Luggage Right Off Carousels

Investigators say they do not know how many bags were stolen

Thursday, Apr 8, 2010  |  Updated 7:38 AM CDT
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Airport Police: Man Stole Luggage Right Off Carousels

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Investigators say two people have been arrested in luggage thefts from baggage carousels at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

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Investigators say two people were recently arrested in luggage thefts from baggage carousels at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Airport police said abandoned suitcases were found in strange places, such as restrooms and in a stairwell.

"These thieves operate in an environment of opportunity, and they are working targets of opportunity," said DFW Airport spokesman David Magana.

Investigators said they believe Brian Jeffrey Burke stole luggage for high-priced gadgets such as GPS systems and iPods.

"It's easy pickings," said Larry Wansley, a security consultant who used to head American Airlines security. "(I) hate to say it, but it's easy pickings."

Police said Burke then sold the electronics to a hotel shuttle driver who then tried to resell them at flea markets. The shuttle driver faces misdemeanor charges.

Burke, 35, faces three charges of felony theft.

"We obviously are not satisfied that these are the only three, we know that there's more," Magana said.

Investigators do not know how many victims there because they suspect a lot of stolen luggage is never reported. Many people assume their airline lost their missing bag and never file a police report.

"We're going to continue to investigate, and we're going to ask anyone who had anything stolen from inside their luggage or a piece of baggage disappear to contact us," Magana said.

Wansley recommends passengers protect themselves by heading for the baggage claim as soon as they get off their flight.

"Stand as close to the area where the bag comes up on the belt before it gets onto the carousel so you can watch it come off," he said.

Security experts also recommend putting your name on your suitcase in more than one place, inside and out. An identifier such as a colored ribbon on the handle can also help you spot your bag more quickly and track it as soon as it hits the baggage carousel.

DFW Airport police arrested a man last year on suspicion of stealing hundreds of bags. In Phoenix, police raided the home of a couple who allegedly stole more than 1,000 pieces of luggage.

NBC DFW's Scott Friedman contributed to this report.

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