Sources: Baggage Handlers, Jetway Workers, Security All In On Ongoing Scam

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Think twice before you check your luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Cash, jewelry, electronics and other valuables are being stolen from passengers’ baggage at a staggering rate.

It’s happening as a result of inside jobs that aren’t being stopped, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports exclusively.

All Rita Lamberg has left is an empty jewelry drawer and pictures of the $160,000 worth of watches, rings and necklaces that were stolen from her baggage at JFK Airport.

“I am so sick. This is a lifetime, a lifetime of my savings,” Lamberg said.

But Lamberg isn’t alone. Law enforcement sources told Kramer that thefts at the airport have increased at a staggering and alarming rate. There are now more that 200 a day — and that’s every day. Baggage handlers, jetway workers and even security people are all in on the ongoing scam to steal you blind.

“The belly of the airplane has become like a flea market for airport employees. They go in there and go through all the luggage unencumbered, unchecked,” JFK security lawyer Kenneth Mollins said.

Mollins is representing Lamberg as she tries to get reimbursed by the airline. Former NYPD detective Frank Shea was hired by other clients who were also ripped off at the airport. They both said the theft problem at JFK is a nightmare that is going unchecked.

“What we’re seeing out there is that really anything that isn’t nailed down is being stolen and for that matter I would caution, some day, if there weren’t tires missing from an aircraft,” Shea said.

Sources told Kramer that one of the things that makes the thieves so successful is that they engage in luggage profiling. They go after the most expensive luggage, but they also check out where you come from. So if you live in Scarsdale or Muttontown or North Woodmere you’re more likely to have your bags opened and possibly things stolen.

“It’s really occurring on the tarmac or as it’s being loaded onto the aircraft,” Shea said.

Once they’ve found the goodies, Shea said there are many ways to make off with them.

“Sometimes they get loaded into the back of one of the vehicles out at the airport. They’re searched through. They can be discarded as rubbish. Other times they are leaving the airport grounds,” Shea said.

In other words, thieves steal your bags, but as a passenger you never find that out. The airlines say they are lost in transit.

“The airlines don’t want to report these thefts because it’s bad for business,” Mollins said.

And they don’t want to talk to reporters about it because even if your luggage isn’t stolen you could still be a target.

“Fares go up clearly because of this. It’s a cost of doing business. They pay out and they hide the fact that these items are stolen,” Mollins said.

Most travelers have no idea what’s going on.

“You now scared the hell out of me,” said Sutton Place resident Louis Polk.

“I’m surprised. I didn’t know it was so, so bad,” added Rosana Perez of the Bronx.

And every time Lamberg looks into the emptiness of her jewelry drawer she said she feels, “heartbroken. I can’t believe it happened to me.”

The Port Authority, which owns JFK, said that workers are fingerprinted and given background checks though the FBI database.”

Even so, the agency said it’s going to install more cameras around the airport to help combat the problem Kramer has exposed.

Experts said that what really needs to happen is for the Federal Aviation Administration to tighten standards and for airlines to consider putting cameras in the belly of their planes.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

Comments (325)
  1. Flyoverman says:

    If you can smuggle stolen luggage out of an airport, you can smuggle luggage full of explosives into an airport and put it on one or more planes. IIn the mean time TSA is checking my shoes and frisking children in wheelchairs.

    1. Alfred Hussein Union says:

      In the thefts, you’re going against the bag handlers’s union. The Feds aren’t going to stop with Obama in office, and the democrats in NY aren’t going to stop it. The union dollars are too important.

      1. bombtech2 says:

        It is worse than you think…I am a retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer. I was investigating firearms thefts at a shipping company and wanted to install hidden cameras…The business owner told me he had to ask the union for permission before allowing it! The union responded by saying they would go on strike if they cameras were installed…a pure case of the tail wagging the dog! It made the decision to retire very easy.

        1. JohnL says:

          You lie.

          1. Defend Thyself says:

            You are an idiot & either are with a union or completely stupid.

          2. Edgeofthecliff says:

            No, he doesn’t. I have had the same situation as I am a security systems designer and I have been threatened on jobsites more than once. I have been told to program erroneous routes “or else”, I have had numerous pieces of equipment stolen out of spite, etc. All of the threats, damage, and problems have all been on union jobs. Not once have we ever encountered it on a public or private non-union facility or entity. Not once.

            1. JosyWales says:

              sounds like a business opportunity

        2. Corky Boyd says:

          In Detroit after the Northwest/Republic Airlines merger, baggage started going astray. Northwest honored both airlines’ labor contracts. The problem was Republic’s baggage handlers earned sightly less than Northwest’s. Instead of waiting for contract to expire and be renegotiated, Republic’s employees decided a little job action would speed things along. They retagged luggage to remote destinations, Anchorage Alaska being the favorite.

          NWA knew what was happening but was stymied by a provision in the contract prohibiting hiddden cameras. They coulldn’t get the goods on the perpetrators. So NWA went to the FBI who could use cameras.and caught and convicted several of them. Result, instead of beng disciplined,or fired, the malcontents went to jail.

          1. maxtor says:

            any company or corporation that would enter into a union contract that prohibits cameras is idiots. if they are honest then they will not object to cameras but as we all know unions are the most dishonest groups in the world.

        3. Dave says:

          We had the same issue where I work. New laptops were disappearing from the shipping docks faster than we could order them. When cameras were installed there was a stop work ordered by the union until they were removed.

      2. sycodon says:

        Yeah…frikin Union crooks. They stole stuff out my bag.

        Crooks and thieves every last one of them. Now I only do carry one luggage.

      3. Scotty says:

        There you go!!!!!!!!!! It’s never been any different.

      4. StateRunMedia says:

        Tomorrows story; 78% of Americans say they like pizza. Unelected officials took over Washington and the media after the coup and cover up. Even most of the comments online are financed with your tax dollars. Big brother is trying to create the perception of public opinion while burying the truth. They think you can’t handle the truth. Fact of the matter is we have no democracy, president, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

        Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in world history before it disappears forever much like me.

        1. Sarah Fulton says:

          Your Sarah Palin paranoia drivel is showing up on the most non relevant stories. It is annoying beyond belief and I am extremely conservative. I can only imagine what a Dem would think of your repetitively posted comments. If you have a relevant point, make it. If not you are relegating yourself to the tin foil hat group.

          1. TxnByBrth says:

            Yep…Sarah…have to agree. Their strategy may be to become so obnoxiously stupid in their pursuit of non-relevant people to the process (GW Bush, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, etc) that the rest of the ‘normal’ gives up trying to reason with the unreasonable…

          2. I Agree With SRM says:

            Thanks for proving the point “SARAH FUlton.” Attack, discredit, and divert attention. Typical response to a government cover up. Thanks SRM.

          3. Trisha Richards says:

            People know (or should make it their business to know) that all airlines have limits on lost baggage. Also, you must prove that you were carrying “20 Rolex watches”, or have more insurance. Passengers do lie about lost luggage, and how much their “valuables” are worth. How do I know? I used to work for a major airline online, searching for LOST LUGGAGE. (Airlines prefer the term: Delayed luggage)

        2. TxnByBrth says:

          Get a life…

        3. barrie says:

          you should be thankful palin did not make it,what a buffoon

      5. Ken says:

        YOU NAILED IT!

      6. P. F. says:

        I haven’t flown in three years. Two reasons: I refuse to let TSA search me – I am not a criminal – neither is my wife – and I refuse any government radiation. Second, while the actual flying is safe and expert, the rate of airport theft is out of control which means there is no real security at the airport around the aircraft. I grew up in NYC, there is no real security anywhere except at government ofices. Best regards and travel safely, wisely.

        1. delila says:

          Do you really believe saying, I am not a criminal, is sufficient? Do you think criminals say, I am a criminal? Of course not. Not all airports employ an xray scanner to process passengers, do your homework and find one that uses sound waves (millimeter wave.) I personally would not fly at all were there no security personnel to scan each person and their baggage. It is not only a terror attack with an IED we have to worry about. What about disgrunteled persons, hate the airline, hate the ex wife or husband, hate the long lines, or bad food. They get on a flight and bring out a weapon. What then P.F. ?

      7. Dog says:

        Rita Lamberg you stupid fool.
        You took $160,000 of anything on a plane and let it out of your sight?

        She deserves it for trusting the government.

        How is your retirement going?
        Are you relying on the government and social security?

        Cause it isn’t going to be there in 30 years, the baby boomers are SCREWED, they thought they could trust the government with their retirement luggage on the plane ride that is life. Just wait till you hop off the working stiff treadmill only to find the government has stolen all of the social security money.

        1. Carson says:

          Dog, You are an A$$. I don’t care if she had $5 or $100,000 in her bag. It’s her’s and people shouldn’t dig in her bag. So your saying if you leave a window open in your house and someone rob’s you. It’s your own fault! You left the window open.

          When are people going to start doing the right thing? If it’s not yours don’t take it!!!!

          1. J m says:

            You have a keen grasp of the obvious. Of course people shouldn’t steal, but the reality is that they do! Have a little common sense and don’t put valuables in checked bags.

          2. the Carpathian says:


            A voice of reason in the whirlwind of brain farts!

          3. Patty Lee says:

            I agree. Don’t check valuables without insurance. Many sound ways exist to move valuables safely. Problem when the free market does not exist and you get Union nobles who rip off every one. Why can’t these guys get fired? Because the union- management has institutionalized the practice. Same as Mafia. Now, I better up my life insurance after exercising that free speech!

          4. Jubongo says:

            You can’t rely on people to do the right thing.somewhere on your
            Tkt rcpt it tells you that your ckd baggage is only insured for so much.
            If you ck anything worth more than that who’s fault is it?

          5. Jerry says:

            Feel sorry for her but it’s beyond stupid to put 160k in jewelry in a packed back

      8. shelby carruthers says:

        Exacttly, Union thiugs are being given carte blanche to rip you off. And as a result of the NON-security measures that were adopted after 9/11, specifically passengers no longer allowed to lock their luggage, there is no way to prove you have been ripped off. On the way back from London last year, my husband and I both had our luggage “searched”, which resulted in packages of replicas of british currency (old english coins) being stolen from our luggage. The coins were to be a gift to our young sons, who had asked for “doubloons” for Christmas.

      9. mediajobs says:

        The unions and the union bosses have been using the Airport as their personal piggy bank for years.

        New York is so corrupt and unions give political money to the corrupt politicos and no one does anything but let honest hard working Americans get their things stolen.

        New Yorkers are STUPID they keep voting in the same corrupt people into office and then they cry when their bags are stolen.

        Trying voting for people NOT tied to the UNIONS

      10. Jack says:

        I would like to see a group photo of all the handlers!!!!

      11. avid flyer says:

        What we need to do is shut the whole thing down, and second if your so stupid to leave valuebles in your luggage you deserve what you get. Changeing unions won’t matter When I was in the service the unions ran the shipping of G.I.’s home furniture steroes and cameras from base to base and for years they were stealing whole containers of soldiers belonging until the FBI infiltrated the unions and busted them in the mid 1980’s and arrested almost the entire shipping operation in the U.S. Organized Crime= Goverment.

      12. Leroy Johnson says:

        Most I want to say probably 80% of JFK baggage handlers are not unionized. So I don’t know where this union thing is coming from. Secondly I’m in no way condoning their actions but when you pay people 9.00/hr you are not exactly shooting for the top tier of workers. The companies are getting the service they paid for.

        1. dgm says:

          So what you’re saying is that people who earn a smaller salary are likely to have less integrity ?!! If that’s not stereotyping, I don’t know what is !!

      13. Patriot says:

        I feel dumber for having read your comments.

      14. Fire them alll says:

        Bag handlers union give me a break.You can get a job as baggage handle fairly easy no experience no education and backround check is joke.But even if it is baggage handler what about the security that oversees them thay are in on it to.Should have them inventory what they come in with and out with.Put them trhu same machines as passengers and this will stop.

      15. Fire them alll says:

        Bag handlers union give me a break.You can get a job as baggage handlers fairly easy no experience no education and backround check is joke.But even if it is baggage handler what about the security that oversees them thay are in on it to.Should have them inventory what they come in with and out with.Put them trhu same machines as passengers and this will stop.

    2. Zman says:

      Well isn’t this welcoming news. Can’t believe there isn’t more checks in place to make sure this never happened.
      We know things are not great –
      But wow 200 incidents a day..

    3. bumpkin says:

      Isn’t THAT The Truth! You couldn’t PAY me to fly anymore. I am now an official homebody, and loving it. Now that this report is out, it will be cute to see how many radical Muslim’s applications the airlines get for JFK airport! (they need to ask religious preferences in case they need to call clergy over their workers’ exploded remains) No small wonder the airline’s employees are going dotty in-flight! They likely assume each flight is their last, and all the while, the perverts in TSA suits are feeling everybody’s bums (and more) up back at the airport! -oh! TSA- They are also in on the thieving- saw the write-up of that the other day. The airlines would have a far more successful business, with lower overhead, if they would just have bomb-sniffing doggies happily greet every passenger coming through, and only one worker in the crew in the belly of the plane,- oh, with a FED there with pistol drawn, ready to shoot and kill every and any thief on site. Fire the stupid ground crew loading luggage, have each passenger walk down under the plane and toss their own bag to the ONE worker responsible for loading the plane- no accomplice to help with the thieving, work his butt off, too busy to steal, fire the TSA idiots, hire ONE cop in uniform per ON-flight- (still WAY under budget, huh) who will, right after the attendants do the usual safety info, stand up and inform everyone that if s/he sees or hears ANYONE doing anything exciting, while on this flight, s/he will shoot to kill them, so if you are not a baby or a toddler under 6, shut up and stay seated, and ask for a flight attendant to walk you to the pot. End of all their problems, much happier customers, happier flight crew, too. this is clearly an area of finance where less is more.

      1. Olizzy says:

        And, despite that being outrageously dangerous (depressurizing cabin, hitting innocent bystanders, etc.) and amoral, it’s still probably more constitutional than what we’ve got going on right now.

        1. GWC says:

          Actually it’s not dangerous to the aircraft. Air Marshals already use a type of bullet called a frangible. It’s made of compressed powder, won’t penetrate the plane’s skin, and will even break up if it hits drywall. The morality or immorality is also debatable.

    4. Aggie says:

      You hit the nail on the head

    5. Dr. 9 says:

      Perhaps if they hired some White people, and did “real” background checks, this wouldn’t be a problem. But, passengers belongings don’t matter when the main goal is “diversity”. And don’t think the TSA agents at JFK are not involved. They are.

      1. Peter B says:

        White people most likely don’t want this job, at least in NYC.

        1. Ernaldo T says:

          There’s white people in NYC?

        2. Jim says:

          Third world country employs third world workers.

    6. Clarity-jane Seer says:

      Enough of the paranoia!

    7. Kimberly Murray says:

      Very well put! I don’t even fly anymore due to the frisking and now the stealing and the airlines are crying about their business hurting. Well it is about time they start listening to the general population who doesn’t want TSA and wants more camera’s and security to protect us and our belongings we are trusting to them.

    8. russ says:

      The only thing that should be in the belly of an air plane is clothes any other valuables should be hand carried inside with you. There are people working at the air port that would or could be enticed to bring harmful things to the air plane. Several have been caught fortunately before they could do harm.

    9. kay says:

      Excellent point!

    10. Scarf says:

      Three things I have done since college days regarding flying:
      – always use basic, inexpensive luggage (only idiots use expensive stuff)
      – use 2 different colored plastic ties to seal luggage from being opened
      – only identification on bags is without titles, street or city
      I carry extra colored plastic ties for return trip in carry ons.

      Never had a single thing ever taken from any luggage.
      Thieves always go for easy prey first.
      My bags are never low hanging fruit.
      My system works flawlessly.

      1. Amy says:

        Scarf- exactly. The obnoxious people who buy expensive show-off luggage are also the ones who complain if it gets dirt on it. They make themselves targets. I use plain old ordinary luggage, no brand but decent quality.

        – I use the little bread twistie-ties to keep my bag shut. No baggage handler is going to want to dork around trying to figure out how to un-twist it and it keeps the zipper shut. A LOT of stuff falls out from the zippers being caught in the sorting machinery because of the baggage tags people put on.
        -I put my name & address and routing information INSIDE of my bag on a piece of paper. If my bag got lost, the port manager for the airline is allowed to open the bag to search for ID. Having my full name, address, phone number and destination has gotten my bag re-routed quickly, often before I even knew it was missing.
        -I never ever ever pack expensive things in my checked bags. The only thing that’s in there are my extra shoes, my plain old traveling clothes and if I’m on my way home, it’s all dirty so more power to them if they want to paw through that.
        -My carry-on has my laptop, phone, money and anything expensive I am bringing home. I make sure it fits under the seat of the smallest plane I’m flying so it won’t be gate-checked. If they do decide to take it at the gate, I have a second tote bag to throw my electronics, medications & valuables into so they can stay with me.
        -I’ve never had anything stolen or my bag damaged. I don’t wrap those stupid belts around my bag, I don’t have anything on it to make it stand out other than a very bright pc of tape on the handles so I can see it easier when it’s going ’round and ’round. I don’t use locks. My bags get there in one piece with the goods intact.

        People pack too much crap when they travel, therefore setting themselves up to lose more. I travel internationally a lot so I’ve learned to pack light. I don’t miss having 10 different outfits when I’m out and about around Europe or Asia and I certainly don’t miss dragging a bunch of stuff around with me. Leave the valuables at home or ship them ahead with a private, insured carrier.

        1. JJ SIMPSON says:



    11. Josef says:

      this stealing problem is supported by the stupid rule of not being able to put the lock on the suitcase flying from/in to USA. what do you expect? it is like “hey guys take as much as you can”. flying business is in incredible bad shape. do you remember the enjoyment of flying 15 years ago?

  2. ma67 says:

    Maybe Samsonite, etc should offer the option to purchase luggage with tiny, hard to see cameras. Catch them in the act on video, then fire their worthless behinds!

    1. Doug says:

      That would be illegal. Nothing may interfere with the privacy rights of thieves.

      1. ma67 says:

        Of course, what was I thinking? The criminals have all of the rights these days….

      2. CraxyD says:

        WtF does this have to do with anything from TFA?

      3. Kropotkin says:

        interesting site-and is it klun or nazi driven?

        1. dfykke says:

          Klun probably…wait…KLUN??

    2. Dustie says:

      You are right. A long time ago, I took a group of school kids on a field trip to the post office, and I was surprised to find out that there were places with one-way mirrors where workers could be watched. How hard would it be to put up security cameras in the airport? Another issue is that with the danger of crazies and terrorism, those in the baggage areas should be checked out extremely well before hiring them. It is a major security issue.

      1. Olizzy says:

        Or, ya’ know, we could always try profiling the people most likely to go bomb an airplane. Cheaper, less invasive, more accurate…

        Another thing we should do is have airlines be the ones to provide security. 1. They have a financial stake in the matter (stock, paying customers) 2. They’d be spending their own money so they’d be very concerned about it being profitable.

        1. Aggie says:

          The govment would never have it. TSA has been given more power and they are unionized. Many aren’t even college graduates but they are now called “officers”. The government is so inefficient in every single thing they do. This is just another way to increase a particular voting base.

        2. Joseph B. Munzer says:

          The schmuck lawyers from the ACLU/NYCLU would never allow it.

  3. ThomYorke says:

    Probably a cause of many delayed flights as they hold back the luggage to peruse it’s contents. This costs the airlines millions in fines, which are then passed down to you and me.

    1. Chuck says:

      Union members for sure!

      1. Claire says:

        Obama’s people, for sure!

        1. tommytomted says:

          Oh Claire….how can you be sure these are “Obama’s people”?

          1. WTF says:

            Are you seriously that out of touch?

  4. Ed Fdnyretiree says:

    Perhaps the useless TSA should be searching THESE vermin instead of nuns, grandmas and babies.

    1. Dinkyboy says:

      2nd this comment. Don’t forget, besides groping us the TSA has also been caught steeling.

    2. gah says:

      you mean checking out the people near the planes every day would be more useful than checking a baby’s diaper or granny’s Depends?

  5. The Mask says:

    Do the thieves resemble someone who looks like Obama’s son???

    1. changomango says:

      Yes, Yes, Yes!

    2. Jimbo says:

      Of course!

    3. Scotty says:

      Oh yeah!!!!!!!!! I want a TSA hoodie!!!!!!!!

  6. cc says:

    union employees enough said.

    1. tommytomted says:

      Never worked for a union did you?

      1. Aggie says:

        No, I don’t get into their kind of politics so the work they do (campaigning for the dems) isn’t really my cup of tea.

  7. Duude says:

    For 70K a year plus benefits what do you expect? Baggage handlers need to make ends meet.

    1. Leroy Johnson says:

      What baggage handler do you know that makes 70k a year?

    2. Amy says:

      Yeah, rrriiiiiigggght. Try $9 an hour and no health benefits. Most people who work in the travel industry do it because you can fly anywhere your airline flies for free, not for the paycheck.

  8. Joe Dutra says:

    Hey TSA! If these punks can take stuff out of our luggage at will, they can also put stuff in our luggage! Do you all understand what I am saying?

    1. ChoccoCat says:

      You are saying that 19 guys that attacked us 11 years ago still scare you, that you still believe in sleeper cells and you still believe in some omnipotent but invisible enemy that will stop at nothing to WMD your sorry but and rape your daughter because they hate freedom, yes, we know what you have been saying for ten years now

      Here is the deal dude, terrorism is easy, you know why there are no terror attacks? Cause nobody wants to kill you. Relax.

      1. Texan says:

        Sigh. I really, really wish you were right. The world would be such a niced place if there really weren’t millions of muslim fanatics who would dance with orgasmic joy at our deaths, and for whom there is no greater accomplishment than murdering our children..

      2. Rantrightdave says:

        Just wondering if you’ve ever been medically diagnosed as stupid?

      3. Testiculese says:

        One word:


  9. James says:

    This isn’t the only airport this is happening at. I flew through Miami late last year & there are vendors there putting pink shrink wrap around your bags before being loaded into the planes to slow down the thefts – did not say stop them but slow them down.

    1. PJ London says:

      Having been a victim once, and therefore for the last 15 years we never fly without having “checked” luggage shrink-wrapped.
      It costs a couple of pounds (UK), and it takes about 5 minutes and a sharp knife to get it off at the destination, but since doing this we have not been robbed “in transit”

  10. Cyndi says:

    Over the last few years, I’ve heard stories about this very issue. I flew home out of JFK on Friday. Do you want to know where all my valuables were? In my carry on bag; never out of my hands and right in my line of sight. I might add, I came home with everything I left with.

    1. Jim says:

      Yeah, who the hell puts $160k worth of stuff in checked baggage. I never put anything valuable in the belly of the plane. It always goes with me.

      1. gah says:

        yeah, common sense dictates that anything of real value be with you and in your line of sight at all times. anything that won’t fit in your carry-on, however, make sure is insured!

        1. clease says:

          maybe she had brotches (they’re weapons you know) or chunky jewelry that didnt have the proper safety case, or maybe the chains were to long and could be considered a wepon you might use to choke someone………. I will never understand why people fly if they don’t have to.

      2. XXZZYY says:

        “Who the hell (allegedly) puts $160k worth of stuff in checked baggage? ” How about someone dumber than dirt or who’s trying to scam the airline, insurance co. or whoever else might be liable for paying a claim for reimbursement.

    2. Peter B says:

      The TSA will steal your stuff when they distract you with their BS.

  11. Patrick says:

    I saw a story on CNN back in 1992 about this phenomenon. It’s a shame that 20 years later, the issue has not been resolved. There is not reason security cameras and proper personnel procedures cannot at least minimize this type of behavior. In the mean time, I’ll continue traveling with my 15-year-old backpack and keep my valuables in my carry-on.

    1. sick of it all says:

      What do expect from Port Authority Police and administration,they have known about the problems for milleniums,and nothing has been or will be done

    2. Sarah Peters says:

      How do you remember it was exactly 1992?

      1. mimi007 says:

        There are some people whose memory allows them to recall specific details, even to the day, and what they were wearing at the time. Marilu Henner is one of those with great memory powers. Check into it; it’s fascinating.

  12. Simeon Namore says:

    I have had items stolen from my checked bags twice–since the appearance of the TSA. TH
    he second time occurred in KC on a flight to Atlanta. I noticed the missing item upon arrival, but the TSA commander in KC assured me that “this never happens” and directed me to file a report in Atlanta. How much interest did the APD have in this case? Guess.
    Here are my promises: never to leave the airport without checking the contents of my checked luggage; If something is missing I will demand police attention on the spot–and I won’t take no for an answer; finally, if I ever catch someone in stealing from my bags, s/he will come to regret it–instantly.

  13. Ozzy says:

    It would be nice if we can lock our bags …again. Funny though, the rate of theft isnt as high elsewhere in the world..

    1. allie says:

      All a luggage lock does is flag your bag as one with something of value in it. Most luggage locks are worthless. and worse they snag on equipment and ruin your bags.

    2. Peter B says:

      I knew a baggage handler that worked at JFK (on the tarmac) , he told me that they would slash open peoples luggage, so a lock isn’t going to work.

    3. Leroy Johnson says:

      The rate of theft is very high in the Carribbean, Africa, and SE Asia.

  14. Brain User says:

    I’m sorry, but what kind of an idot checks a bag with that amount of valuables. Where are the common sense police? She should have her head examined and right to vote revoked. Don’t need this in the gene pool.

    1. Duude says:

      I never check anything in, but I also don’t blame people victimized by common thieves. We could just as easily blame someone who carries any cash for even a short period of time.

  15. Mahhn says:

    for the last 7 years I ONLY take carry on (even for a 3 week vacation) and never let it out of my sight, less it’s over my head in storage.
    Trust no one and never be let down.

  16. Robert says:

    I flew out of JFK Tuesday 3/20 JetBlue from terminal five on a 3pm flight. I had a bag with a TSA approved lock on it. When i arrived in FLL it was obvious that the lock had been pryed open with a screwdriver. I guess the bag handlers thought i had an expensive electronics inside because it was a hard case bag that weighed fifty pounds. I guess they were surprised to find it was a dialysis machine and supplies, all of which has no street value. At least they zippered the bag back up and sent it along instead of throwing it out. What they need at JFK is more certified police officers, not by the hour security keeping a better eye on things.

  17. Lou Sussler says:

    I hate to say it but 200 thefts a day may not be so many given the absolute number of checked bags which move through JFK every day. I looked for and was unable to locate that information but would you guess 2,000? 20,000?

    If there are 20,000 bags a day (and that may be light) and 200 thefts, that’s 1 percent. Anything over 20,000 bags a day and it’s less than 1 percent and dropping. Yes, it’s unacceptable and needs to be fixed but no, it’ snot an epidemic.

    1. Skipdallas says:

      That’s 200 a day that are reported! Lost in transit bags are not counted in this tally.The whole system needs to be revamped somehow and these thieves put in jail. This is all probably all “Mobbed-up” anyway.

    2. Jive says:

      1% is still way too high. How is that acceptable? It’s going on. People know it’s happening, and you suggest we accept it because 1% is a low number (to you)? And that’s just the percent that are stolen – many more are VIOLATED…searched for goods, and then moved on. I find that creepy, how about you? Most of us have clothes and toiletries and not much else…So, what percentage of checked valuables are stolen? Much higher than 1%.

    3. HarvardDelendaEst says:

      So I guess it would be OK for a concerned citizens group to randomly arrest and execute 1% of baggage handlers in New York. yes? After all, it’s only a small fraction of the criminal population and if the “cull” is widly publisized, it will serve as a “teaching moment” for the rest of the herd. Win Win Baby 🙂

      1. TroyHelen says:


  18. Wise Guy says:

    Here’s the problem: TSA

    Check in, physical security search people, bags, luggage
    at the front gate. Then lock and load the luggage.

    If luggage can be compromised when loading, by theft, then a bomb
    can be inserted into the luggage at this critical phase. This is another
    security threat that needs to be addressed by the TSA.

    Remember if something can be taken out, something can be put in…bang!

  19. wilder125 says:

    It all goes to show you. Forget internet and computers exist while on road trips. It’ll be less expensive if you don’t have anything for someone to steal.

  20. Geoff says:

    What are you guys talking about. I worked in Orlando and I saw other baggage handelers stealing all the freaking time. This was in the 90’s It is not just lost baggage. I saw this going on while we were stuffing the planes full of baggage.

  21. Mike says:

    This is news? I worked for TWA at JFK in the early 90s (before Gulf War I) and had a turn in lost luggage for a bit. It was an open secret even then that you could give a shopping list to the ramp guys. And while most in the lost luggage section were honest, and anything valuable was officially supposed to be locked up, there were those who were very happy to find a bag with no tags on the outside and no information on the inside.

    Oh, and as to the woman who lost $160k in jewelery — prove it. I also remember passengers trying to scam the airline. One person claimed to have lost jewelery, cash, a mink coat and other luxury items from a very small tear

    1. Ken Mollins, Esq says:

      This is easy to prove. Aside from receipts and photos of all the Jewlery my client showed it all to the airlines before she was forced to check it…AND…her rolex was recovered at the home of one of the baggage handlers. End of story..that guy is going to jail

      1. Geoff says:

        Yes if you show it prior to going on the plane, than yes you are correct. It is easy to prove. If they do not however they get a check for $100 and than they say thank you for your business.

      2. Mike says:

        I have receipts and photos of my expensive goods at my home; doesn’t mean they are with me if something happens to my luggage along the way. Now the showing of the jewels to airline employees (and I assume there is evidence that that happened somewhere) and recovering her Rolex at the home of one of the baggage handlers is another matter (neither of which was mentioned in the article).

      3. sick of it all says:

        You rarely go to jail for armed robbery in NY,so it’s doubtful the perp will be doing any time for stealing a rolex

      4. sick of it all says:

        I think I hear the sound of an ambulance………….do you?

        1. Ken Mollins, Esq says:

          No ambulances in this story. Just found a loophole to get around 3,300 baggage loss fee that airlines contract to pay. Loophole will let client recover the value of her lost jewlery. Need to legislate security so that airport police can act to stop this type of theft. Laws are now restrictive and airport tarmac workers can come onto tarmac with knives and weapons and can even have been convicted of certain crimes. If we dont toughen it up there will be moore of the same

        2. cbmesq says:

          Obviously you have no understanding of how the US legal system operates. Law suits often bring changes that benefit all Americans, not just the one who prosecuted his case for redress.

  22. Preston says:

    FedEx much?

    1. Hatin the Groids in MN says:

      That’s right, Preston. FedEx or UPS will have your bags there when you get there, usually. I have had stuff stolen and Northwest blamed TSA and TSA blamed Northwest. It was finally decided Northwest would reimburse if I provided proof that the items were in the bags and if I provided receipts. Any receipts I had were with the items that were stolen. The theft occurred at the Minneapolis airport. To those who say don’t travel with valuables, well, not everyone is taking their first plane ride to visit granny. I have to fly for work and have to travel with valuables. FedEx or UPS are more expensive but worth it in the long run. It can be written off as a business expense.

  23. EDWARD says:


  24. Ellen says:

    Marcia Kramer is a joke. How did she “expose” this? Unfortunately, it’s common knowledge that some workers steal from luggage. It’s unacceptable, but Kramer’s attempts to take credit for pushing the authorities to act is as laughable as her “journalistic piece” about terrorists on bikes in front of the Israeli embassy. CBS NY, please find someone who can do journalism.

    1. Preston says:

      Go be a snide jack ass elsewhere.

      1. Ellen says:

        Make me.

        1. thenewsjunkie says:

          I’m with you Ellen. She never looks at the information she is presented with with a critical eye. She’s a sensationalist.

  25. sick of it all says:

    I blame the Port Authority, they have the highest paid Police Department in the Country,are aware of the problem,yet choose to ignore it……………..idiots

    1. Ken Mollins, Esq says:

      Port Authority police cant police what is not reported. The airlines hide the crimes by classifying the luggage as missing so there is noo evidence of theft. Further, the Port Authority has no jurisdiction inside the airplane and in baggage areas as these are tenenat areas and are to be secured by the airlines. Big problem

      1. sick of it all says:

        Your premise lacks merit,do police need someone to report drug dealing,before they start an undercover investigation….I think not

      2. sick of it all says:

        so if someone gets murdered on a plane or in the baggage comparment,the Port Authority Police can’t investigate or make an arrest,your full of poo KM esq

  26. Aloha says:

    As a retired airline worker ( I’ve worked at all three NYC airports ) I’ve seen the best become corrupted, theft of baggage has always been a problem with Travelers and easier with each passing year for the TSA and airlines and airline contractors. Those bags that you pay a fee for are the easiest because they are opened in area controlled only by the TSA. You can figure out the rest. More and more stupid people fly every year, people who shouldnt be boarding a bus get on planes with their bags locked and loaded…leave your stash at home.

    1. BMO says:

      Because it’s the fault of the traveler.

      Go blame the victim somewhere else, you twit.

    2. sugvandersloot says:

      The “Best” are incorruptible, Don’t make excuses for low lives and thieves.

  27. rocker90 says:

    stop hiriing thugs

    1. murk says:

      Hire a better class and that will cost you. THe public has already shown it will take a 50% cut in service and comfort to save 5$ on the way to Florida. You get what you pay for!

  28. matti rinta-tuuri says:

    It is not just JFK. Take a flight with international connection from LGA and it is all gone when you arrive.

  29. doc in NJ says:

    just a thought….

    even before travel became not so joyful or adventurous an event, I would always carry valuables close to the vest (in carry-ons).

    Who checks $160K of jewelry in luggage?

  30. Sheesh says:

    It’s amazing how much trouble you have to go through just to travel these days.

  31. Jerry O'Mara says:

    I’ve said it more than once or twice while standing in line waiting to remove my shoes,religious metals and my 9/11 memorial bracelets with the names of NYC Firefighters killed on that terrible day I should be checking you out not the other way around.nice job by KenMollins, Jerry O’Mara retired F.D.N.Y.

    1. NYCsewer says:

      enough with the 911 hero crap

      1. Enough says:

        right on.

      2. Scott says:

        TOTALLY !

        1. Rudy Giuliani, President of 9/11 says:

          C’mon, guys!

    2. artemis133 says:

      Thank you, Mr. O’Mara. It was a terrible day, and the first responders that day are (and were, RIP), heroes. Ignore the other twits that replied with derision or sarcasm.

  32. BOBSEE60 says:

    If all that luggage is stolen each day, law enforcement should be able to set-up a “sting” operation using profile luggage implanted with tracking devices and other detection equipment (ie) radio transmission, etc, etc, etc… Or hire Henry Hill (Goodfellows) as a consultant to shown authorities how the baggage is being ripped off.. LOL.

    1. doc in NJ says:

      Fabulous!! We’ll get a reality TV show to watch the TSA fight with the cops, see what those x-rays really reveal, all that stuff. Cool beans!!

  33. yo says:

    Or…all you have to do is not use expensive luggage. And why would you anyways?

  34. says:

    I came back from Argentina loaded with expensive leather goods and a carton of cigarettes. The only thing that was stolen was the $11 carton of cigarettes.

    Need I say more ? It has GHETTO CLOWNS written all over it.

    I carry my cash with me through the metal detector while my eyes are GLUED to the xray machine and my bag. Try talking to me…doesn’t matter my eyes are GLUED to the Xray machine.

    Ghetto Clowns thugging up on good citizens in the name of security.


  35. Robert A. Rosenberg says:

    I put the blame firmly in the laps of the clowns working for TSA. Bags have locks for a reason and TSA should either inspect your bags in front of you (and then allow you to lock them) OR if they “inspect” out of your sight lock every bag that has a non-key lock (ie: Those with combination locks with they can just spin to change the settings on). While this will not deal with the bags that are stolen, it will prevent them from just being opened and looked though (since after TSA is done with them they are sent on to the thieves UNLOCKED).

  36. cynicalpeaches says:

    Thank you for the warning.

    I plan on visiting New York City later this year, and fortunately it’s just for a short vacation and I won’t even need expensive clothes. I’ll take as little as possible, and before going to the airport to return home I’ll arrange to have some of the items shipped.

    We shouldn’t put much faith in promises to deter theft. We can consider ourselves fortunate if we can take precautions ahead of time to protect ourselves.

  37. Traveler says:

    Union workers doing wha they do best.

  38. Traveler says:

    Union workers?

    1. Bullett says:

      I hate to break your bubble “Traveler” but most if not all of the thefts reported are from low cost, low budget carriers that pay their employees minimum wage. If you were in this pay category, what would you do to supplement your income? Another reason for this is poor management and oversight by the higher ups that don’t care, except for their bonus and profits. So; by adding camera’s I can tell you, it will not work. Best solution and advice to any traveler, always keep valuables & prescriptions with you at all times. If it’s your clothes your worried about, take out travelers insurance and/or additional baggage insurance incase your luggage does not arrive with you at your destination, with the exception of returning home. In closing, if you want to know why I know these things, its because I’m a retired airline employee who knew what airline travel was like back in the 60’s.

  39. Old Man Peabody says:

    Whats all the fuss? The main focus is on YOU the traveler. While they’re sizing you up and feeling around inside your pants, their best bud around the corner is stealing from your checked bag while all while some other fool is barking out ridiculous orders at you to stand still, move quickly, take off your shoes blah blah blah….

    When is this going to end? We are not the criminals here. We are business travelers, vacationers, tourists, students who will never allow a plane to be taken the way it was again. I know we can’t go back to the ’70’s or even the ’80’s of air travel but this is something that TRULY was better back then. (Well, except for the smoking in the back of the cabin). but you went through security in a minute or two, got aboard the plane, the PLEASANT “stewardess” was much more congenial and a lot less of a royal pain, you had a nice meal with real silverware even in coach, and you flew, for the most part, in peace and quiet to your destination. If your bags didn’t arrive, they most likely really were lost or misrouted and items for the most part, were not stolen.

    Ahhhh good time, good times……

    1. us citizen says:

      I agree

  40. DP says:

    Can’t control it, then shut it down.

    1. Brandon says:

      you sound like you are one of the thieves

  41. Texas Pete says:

    Yes of course, don’t be so stupid as to put 160 K of stuff in your luggage. Why?! You should be able to put anything in your luggage without it being stolen! But of course you can’t. They steel anything that is not nailed to the floorboards. A very, very sad state of affairs. And nobody is doing anything about it. Are they the same people that check you out to see if you are a terrorist? Grim, sorry Crim.

  42. mike quill says:

    And if the camera is bolted to the plane, that gets taken as well. 😎

  43. Debra says:

    I can’t believe that the FBI or any other law enforcement agency is stupid enough to believe that just because someone passes a criminal background check that they are honest. There are plenty of crooks who are just smart enough to have never gotten caught.

    1. yo says:

      real criminals dont get caught

  44. Debra says:

    I can not believe that the FBI believes that just because someone doesn’t have a criminal background, that they are honest. They obviously have been smart enough just not to have gotten caught.

  45. cargo too says:

    That is not counting what some steal in the cargo areas.

  46. Jill GS says:

    Why would someone carry and check $160,000 worth of jewelry on a flight??
    I am sure the baggage handlers are aided by the xrays of the luggage as part of “security”. There should be cameras behind the scenes at the airport to make travelers feel more secure as they travel. We are subject to ever intrusive security evaluation. It is the least we can expect of baggage handlers, TSA , etc.

    1. Ken Mollins, Esq says:

      The airlines forced her to check her carry on when they learned it had valuables. She tried to remove the jewlery from the bag but was stopped by airline personell. There is a community of criminaluity at the airport and each part helps the other to steal.

      1. RB Esq says:

        I hope these thieves are civilly and criminally screwed by the time you’re done. Keep up the good fight. Although, I don’t get why you’re commenting on the message boards!

      2. Katherine says:

        Cute story. But not true. More than likely, she was trying to carry on a steamer trunk sized bag that no way in **** would fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment and THAT is why they told her she had to check it. Not because it was valuable stuff. If she had done a little research before her flight and packed a little less crap, this wouldn’t have happened. She could have put all of her jewels in her purse, kept it with her and checked her undies and jammies like everyone else. Voila, no problem. I smell a gold-encrusted rat here.

    2. J Doe says:

      EXACTLY what I was thinking. Something does not smell right with her case. In these times I would not doubt she is engaged in some fraud to recover some money.

      Either that or she is in fact the dumbest person alive. I personally carry 100-200k dollars in cash in my checked bags.

  47. Rennie says:

    To that woman who lost $100,000 worth of watches and jewelry: well, madam, if you’re stupid enough to put valuables in your checked bags, what do you expect? I never ever check anything but clothes and makeup, and I always make sure all my money, electronics and jewelry are still in my carryon, even, after TSA gets through with it…hey, they don’t trust me, why should I trust them?

    1. steve says:

      You are so right…some people are just so naive to think the airport is ‘crime free’
      and the story of putting 100,000$ worth of watches in your luggage is pretty amazing LOL (Sounds like a scam-orama for all)

  48. Marianne says:

    I think it’s disgusting for the amount of money they charge you to fly and they can’t ensure your luggage will arrive in one peice, if at all!! I think the FBI should investigare this!

  49. carlbarry says:

    Great. I live in North Woodmere! I guess I should change my address on my luggage tag to “Valley Stream,” which is my Zip code.

  50. pds says:

    Cameras in the planes? They’d steal them too.

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