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1,000 Pieces of Luggage Stolen at Phoenix Airport

A 61-year-old man is accused of stealing around 1,000 pieces of luggage from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and hiding them at his home. Three weeks ago, police arrested Keith King, of Waddell, Ariz., for grabbing a bag off one of a baggage carousel. He was given a citation and released but police said he returned only a few days later. Both he and his wife, Stacy Legg King, 38, were arrested Monday and booked on suspicion of theft and possession of stolen property.

The found suitcases had no identification tags and police will have to track owners as well as missing items. Airport officials said there was no record of the Kings having worked at the airport. However, the Arizona Republic reports the two frequently held yard sales.

But the strangest part of the story was not that it happened, but the response of Phoenix airport officials. The cache of stolen suitcases wouldn't trigger any immediate airport security changes.

"It is 1,000 bags, and we're concerned about it, but it's a rare occurrence," spokeswoman Deborah Ostreicher told the Republic.

Airport administrators said they may reinstitute routine baggage-claim checks, which were dropped as part of cost-cutting at the airport. Yes, the airport might as well have tacked up a sign saying, "Take these bags, please!" (Airport police say they patrol baggage claim because it falls outside of Transportation Security Administration control.)

What kind of response is this from an airport that has 100,000 passengers on 1,200 planes arrive and depart each day? Perhaps this is the problem with many airports -- extreme concern and caution when baggage arrives but no concern whatsoever when it leaves, or with whomever it leaves.

Sky Harbor, which bills itself as "America's Friendliest Airport" (with a registered trademark!) doesn't seem that friendly to its patrons. While the loss of 1,000 bags might have been inevitable, although I doubt that, its uncaring attitude and lax security make this whole event a public relations debacle for the airport.