Luggage Thieves

luggage thieves

Watch Your Bags!

There are two types of luggage thieves: the professional and the moron.

The professional works like a ghost. I’ve seen a pro open, search, and close a bag within 40 seconds. These guys are really fast and sometimes work with other people, sticking together to get the most lucrative shifts.

Their tool is a small double-edged knife that is NOT sharp, because, if it were, it would cut through the bag and leave marks. The knife doubles as your luggage keys!

The law-abiding passenger doesn’t have much to fear from the professionals. They steal things no one is going to place a claim on, such as cash on its way to being laundered, drugs, old currency, valuable freight like gold coins or whole shipments of Rolex watches, and the odd opportunity that arises because of multiple gate changes due to weather.

Before they even open a bag, the pro will bang it a few times to release the odor of any money. When a lot of money is together, it reeks.

The moron is the one who will ruin your vacation or business trip. He’ll steal your video camera after a family vacation, your jewelry, digital camera, computer, credit cards — anything that has value. I’ve even seen them steal clothes and shoes! They’ll also go through the US Mail looking for cash, and also steal cargo.

They’ll work in teams as well. In the belly of the aircraft, one guy will steal from your bags while the other two are loading the airplane. It was so prevalent when I worked at MIA in the 1990s and 2000s, that if you ever flew out of M.I.A. during that time, most likely your bags were breached.

TSA has improved the situation, but it still happens. Just ask Kim Kardashian. In May 2012, while on a British Airways flight, thieves stole from her luggage.

Morons usually are feeding some kind of addiction such as gambling or drugs, or they have a financial problem. Their desperation makes them sloppy and careless sometimes, so they eventually get caught.

Why I Call Them Morons

Once a moron was going through luggage like he had a mission, very quickly and seemingly without guilt, and his airport ID fell inside one of the bags he was searching. When the passenger arrived home and opened his bag, he found that items were missing, but also found a Miami International Airport ID. The following day American Airlines fired the bad employee. A week later United Airlines hired him….

If you want to ask me questions on traveling, fire away……….JJ

The complete story of The Luggage Thieves will be in my forthcoming memoir, The Baggage Handler.

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28 Responses to Luggage Thieves

  1. Mitzie Mee says:

    That’s really disturbing information, but also very interesting to read about. I had no idea it works like that. What type of suitcase would you recommend?

    • J J Gonzalez says:

      Really, no suitcase is safe.

      If they want your bags, they’ll take it! If you’re going to take something expensive the airline sells additional insurance. I know that won’t make you feel much better, but the situation is better than it used to be, at least. JJ

      • J J Gonzalez says:

        If they wanted to steal your bag, they would check without your witnessing it. You’re seeing plain carelessness. I was taught by the old school employees, who care about their jobs, and who built American from the ground up. They told me to treat passengers’ bags like they were my own. They said to place the baggage with the handle facing the person in the belly of the plane and not to throw the passengers’ bags. They put the fear of God in me, telling me the passengers are watching and I could get fired if they complained. Sadly, the new generation doesn’t seem to care as much

  2. Amanda Wood says:

    This was really interesting. A friend travelled thru NY airport a few months ago and her 12 year old son had his watch stolen during the security check. They spent a couple of hours filling out reports and even with all those cameras a liitle boy srill lost a prized watch.

  3. lumar1298 says:

    Wow… Thanks for opening our eyes…

  4. Gator Woman says:

    We had our share of problems at LAX as well. Some TSA had sticky fingers there~

  5. I’ve actually seen guys opening bags at La Guardia.
    I never carry valuables and the only thing I smuggle with is food, so I guess I’m safe.

  6. I see the guys handling the bags to board on the plane just pound on them as if they want them to rip open. Are they trying to see if they will? Or they really don’t care?
    And thank! I am learning a lot here 🙂

  7. Ugg. This is unfortunately not that surprising. My husband once had his putter stolen at Lambert in STL. I guess a single golf club could slip down the leg of someone’s pants and there’s a guy somewhere in STL playing with a strangely mismatched set.

  8. I love this and I want to read more. I also want a job as a baggage handler

  9. GiRRL_Earth says:

    I hate to think what they are doing to the animals! Jesus!

  10. Cortney Matz says:

    See, this is why I drive ;o)

  11. Ahh that makes me extremely paranoid to be flying on my own this summer.

  12. It might have been the several beers I have had but this really made me laugh. I empathize with your plight but goodness did this fucking make me laugh. Great stuff JJ. Cheers! -fn

  13. nicanorr7 says:

    Thanks for this vital info. It’s my first time to know that stealing happens to plane passengers’ suitcases. I think stealing stsrts any time from the moment the suitcase leaves the hand of its owner till it is received by same owner at the desdtination point. I wonder if luggages in our country aren’t pried open. If that’s the case, the system needs thorough cleaning.

  14. Amazing to read how stealthy the professionals are. I guess I’m naive to think airlines don’t keep better watch on these pros…

    Thanks so much for following my poetry blog. 🙂

  15. Wow! Great information! Thanks 🙂

  16. Cheri L. says:

    A very interesting site you have here. I wish you well with your memoir and want to thank you for following The Brass Rag. Come back and see us again soon. Meanwhile, happy writing.

  17. WhovianGirl says:

    I also heard its good to put your work address on your baggage tags instead of your home one because some thieves are less interested in what is in your bag, but that your not home. It supper easy for someone to take a quick picture of your tag, text it to someone else who will go rob your house.

  18. Azi says:

    Good to know! 🙂

  19. Stone Crazy says:

    lol! You sure do have a way with words. Love it.

  20. Pingback: Planning Your First Trip to Europe? | Christine Zenino

  21. jmnielsen7 says:

    Wow, that is rather scary. I’m going on my first trip abroad, to Germany, next week and I hope nothing gets taken. If someone steals my Schnapps and German chocoloate that I plan on bringing back for souvenirs I’m going to hurt them! After reading this though I believe I’m going to keep all my electronics in my carry-on backpack. Thanks for the info!

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