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Lauderdale Rolex Thief Takes Flight

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A watch thief with an impeccable sense of timing stole an expensive Rolex from woman at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Last month, Gloria de Regalado was just following the rules like everyone one else when she placed all her belongings in a plastic bin as she went through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint in Terminal 3.

Regalado said about half an hour later when she went to look at her watch to check the time she found that her $6,500 Rolex was gone. Panicked, she suddenly realized that she had left it in the security bin. Regalado rushed back to the checkpoint, but her watch was nowhere to be found.

When Regalado explained to security what had happened, a TSA supervisor reviewed the surveillance video which showed her leaving the watch in the bin.  The tape also showed a man behind her who stole it. After putting on his shoes, the video shows the man reach into a bin to grab his laptop and then notice the two-toned Rolex in the bin next to his.

"He knew exactly what he was doing, because he saw the watch, he looked around, he palms it, looks around again, then immediately leaves the checkpoint," said Broward Sheriff Lt. Brian Montgomery.

Once out of the checkpoint area, the man walked to a bench and put this laptop and the watch into his backpack.

"There were about a dozen TSA personnel at the checkpoint," Montgomery said.  "All he had to say was, 'Someone left this behind.'  If he didn't want to do that, there was two deputy sheriffs in full uniform and again, he walked right by the."

WEB VIDEO EXTRA: Police Seek Rolex Thief Caught On Camera

TSA notified Broward Sheriff's deputies who searched the terminal for the man. They came up empty. The deputies had no way of knowing which plane the man boarded, but suspected he may have hopped on one of two planes during the search; one which had taxied out, the other which had departed for Dallas. They gave Dallas authorities a call and told them about the theft. It was a valiant effort, but he wasn't on that flight.

Now detectives believe he was on a flight to Charlotte.  Investigators have the names of all of the passengers and will be matching driver's license photos with the man on the surveillance video.

"He's a thief," said Lt. Montgomery.  "Whether it was a crime of opportunity or it was planned, at the end of the day, this person is nothing but a thief."

Detectives believe the man could be from South Florida. They are asking anyone who recognizes the thief to give Broward Crime Stoppers a call at (954) 493-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $1,000 may be available for information leading to an arrest.

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