Nightly News   |  March 27, 2014

Airport Workers Busted for Stealing from Passengers’ Luggage

At LAX, one of the world’s busiest airports, 14 current and former airport workers have been detained, accused of swiping valuables.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with a wake-up call for anyone who flies about what can happen when you check your bags. we're not talking about just losing your luggage, we're talking about people stealing from your luggage, people who work at the airport. in los angeles tonight, half a dozen current and former airport workers are accused from doing just that. we get more tonight from nbc's gabe gutierrez.

>> reporter: it was a surprise sting operation at one of the world's busiest airports, people trusted with handling your luggage, let out in cuffs, one still wearing his security vest.

>> this is the first time we have been engaged in a long-term operation to try to identify as many people as we can.

>> reporter: 14 current and former airport workers, contracted by the airport to handle bags. security says they handled jewelry and other items before they luggage even got to the claim area.

>> anybody who works at the airport has to pass a background, including a criminal history check.

>> reporter: the undercover officers began the sting a while back after reports from customers.

>> they handle nearly 55 million pieces of luggage a year, while police say that that represents a small fraction of that it is a concern for many travellers.

>> i had shoes stolen from me and other small items.

>> reporter: over the past few years, we've seen thefts caught on camera at airports around the country, from new york to atlanta to chicago to denver, all of it leaving passengers wondering how safe their bags really are.

>> you come here and hope things are safe. you depend on it. it is very scary.

>> reporter: emily peterson arriving in los angeles today from boston does not take any chances with checked bags.

>> i was assuming that people were going through my luggage anyway, so i always take precautions, i keep valuables, my jewelry is on me, on my carry-on.

>> reporter: tonight, police are trying to return the stolen items to their owners, what they may never get back is their peace of mind while traveling, gabe gutierrez, nbc news, los