Police make multiple arrests in LAX baggage theft case

Two Los Angeles police officers escort an unidentified suspect to a squad car as part of the multiple arrests made Wednesday, March 26, 2014 in the LAX baggage theft case.
CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES - Police served more than two dozen search warrants and made multiple arrests as part of a months-long investigation into baggage theft at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.

Detectives and officers from the Los Angeles and airport police departments served warrants and seized property Wednesday night at 25 different locations, including the airport itself and in Los Angeles-area cities, including Inglewood and Paramount, said Assistant Chief Michael Hyams of the airport police.

The investigation, which involved officers going undercover among baggage handlers, began after a string of reports of luggage thefts from terminals, runways and planes, police said.

"These items are currently being identified in an attempt to return them to their owners and to assist in the prosecution of identified suspects," Sgt. Belinda Nettles told CBS Los Angeles.

Those arrested were primarily employees or ex-employees of contracting companies hired to handle luggage and do not work for the airport itself, Hyams said.

Television news footage showed police raiding airport terminals and leading out several people in handcuffs, many of them wearing yellow reflective safety vests.

Most of the police activity was at the Tom Bradley International Terminal and at Terminal 4, which houses American Airlines, American Eagle and some Qantas flights.

Police set up a mobile command center and jail near the airport to process those arrested.

CBS Los Angeles reported that jewelry, electronics, clothing, and other personal items were among the belongings recovered in the search of the suspects' homes Wednesday.