Police bust 'criminal gang of airport workers behind theft of £100,000 of valuables including jewelry and cash from travelers’ suitcases (PHOTOs)

Sunday, March 10, 2024
 – A criminal gang of airport workers in Spain have reportedly been arrested or placed under investigation on suspicion of stealing valuables from travellers' suitcases in a new police operation.

In December police in Tenerife announced they had arrested 14 people on suspicion of stealing millions of pounds worth of jewellery, phones, and cash from holidaymakers' luggage.

Overnight, detectives in Madrid went public with their operation at the city's busy international airport, revealing 16 workers had been arrested and another 22 were under investigation as part of an ongoing criminal probe.

Civil Guard officers said they had recovered stolen items worth more than €120,000 (£100,000), with sources saying the value of the property taken could be far higher.

The victims reunited with their belongings including a young musician whose violin went missing as he headed to London for a concert.

A spokesman for the Civil Guard in Madrid, which led Operation Union, said: 'Investigators have managed to recover a large number of items stolen from suitcases which had been checked in by passengers.

'Their value exceeds €120,000 (£100,000).

'As a result of this operation at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, 16 people have been arrested and another 22 placed under investigation.

'They are all workers at firms operating inside the airport accused of taking advantage of their jobs inside the airport premises to access and steal the contents of suitcases.

'The items recovered include a large amount of designer clothing and electronic devices, cameras, jewellery and cash but also a violin and a bible.

'The violin belonged to a young musician who was going to participate in a concert in London.

'A stolen camera has also been returned to a US Army officer who was tracked down to Puerto Rico where he was stationed.

'Food items recovered, which included cured meats, cheese, and ham, have been handed over to soup kitchens after we were unable to identify the travellers they had been taken from.

In December Civil Guard officers revealed 14 Tenerife South Airport workers had been arrested and another 20 placed under investigation.

The operation to snare them was launched after an increase in the number of complaints from passengers who said things had gone missing from their luggage.

Nearly 30 designer watches were recovered along with jewellery, phones, and electronic devices as well as €13,000 (£11,000) in cash.

Spanish police released footage showing them frisking suspects they had held before opening up their lockers to discover stolen items.

A spokesman for the Civil Guard, which led Operation Orotel as it was codenamed, said at the time: 'The value of the recovered items stands at nearly €2 million (£1.7 million).

'Fourteen people have been arrested at Tenerife South Airport and 20 other people placed under investigation on suspicion of robbery, membership of a criminal gang, and money laundering.

'They are all airport workers.

'The operation began after an increase in the number of complaints from passengers who said valuables and cash had been stolen from suitcases they had checked in.

'The victims are of different nationalities.

'The suspects allegedly took advantage of their jobs at the airport to load and unload cases at a slower rhythm and put greater distance between each case.

'They would also open the luggage once it was inside the hold, out of view of passengers and other people.'

The spokesman added: 'Once they had taken the objects that interested them, they would close the zip to make sure there was no sign they had manipulated the contents.'

He said the suspects would also use screens to hide the fact they were opening up passengers' luggage.

Police sources said after the arrests at Tenerife South Airport, the airport used by most British holidaymakers to enter the island rather than the one in the north, that they believed millions of pounds worth of valuables could have been stolen given the value of the material recovered.

Post a Comment