Mar 27, 2012
Shocking Thefts at JFK Airport

Think twice before you check your luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport. A recent report says that more than 200 thefts occur there daily by airport personnel.


Think twice before you check your luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Cash, jewelry, electronics and other valuables are being stolen from passengers’ baggage at a staggering rate.

It’s happening as a result of inside jobs that aren’t being stopped, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports exclusively.

All Rita Lamberg has left is an empty jewelry drawer and pictures of the $160,000 worth of watches, rings and necklaces that were stolen from her baggage at JFK Airport.

“I am so sick. This is a lifetime, a lifetime of my savings,” Lamberg said.

But Lamberg isn’t alone. Law enforcement sources told Kramer that thefts at the airport have increased at a staggering and alarming rate. There are now more that 200 a day — and that’s every day. Baggage handlers, jetway workers and even security people are all in on the ongoing scam to steal you blind.

“The belly of the airplane has become like a flea market for airport employees. They go in there and go through all the luggage unencumbered, unchecked,” JFK security lawyer Kenneth Mollins said.

Mollins is representing Lamberg as she tries to get reimbursed by the airline. Former NYPD detective Frank Shea was hired by other clients who were also ripped off at the airport. They both said the theft problem at JFK is a nightmare that is going unchecked.

“What we’re seeing out there is that really anything that isn’t nailed down is being stolen and for that matter I would caution, some day, if there weren’t tires missing from an aircraft,” Shea said.

Sources told Kramer that one of the things that makes the thieves so successful is that they engage in luggage profiling. They go after the most expensive luggage, but they also check out where you come from. So if you live in Scarsdale or Muttontown or North Woodmere you’re more likely to have your bags opened and possibly things stolen.

“It’s really occurring on the tarmac or as it’s being loaded onto the aircraft,” Shea said.

Once they’ve found the goodies, Shea said there are many ways to make off with them.

“Sometimes they get loaded into the back of one of the vehicles out at the airport. They’re searched through. They can be discarded as rubbish. Other times they are leaving the airport grounds,” Shea said.

In other words, thieves steal your bags, but as a passenger you never find that out. The airlines say they are lost in transit.

“The airlines don’t want to report these thefts because it’s bad for business,” Mollins said.

And they don’t want to talk to reporters about it because even if your luggage isn’t stolen you could still be a target.

“Fares go up clearly because of this. It’s a cost of doing business. They pay out and they hide the fact that these items are stolen,” Mollins said.

Most travelers have no idea what’s going on.

“You now scared the heck out of me,” said Sutton Place resident Louis Polk.

“I’m surprised. I didn’t know it was so, so bad,” added Rosana Perez of the Bronx.

And every time Lamberg looks into the emptiness of her jewelry drawer she said she feels, “heartbroken. I can’t believe it happened to me.”

The Port Authority, which owns JFK, said that workers are fingerprinted and given background checks though the FBI database.”

Even so, the agency said it’s going to install more cameras around the airport to help combat the problem Kramer has exposed.

Experts said that what really needs to happen is for the Federal Aviation Administration to tighten standards and for airlines to consider putting cameras in the belly of their planes.

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Opinions and Comments
Some security..
My jacket was stolen a few years ago by an airport employee but I was only made aware of it after I was boarding the plane. They are also really not suitable for maintaining airport security as they tend to focus on Jews and others against whom they have personal prejudices- ie; the kinds of people who are not a threat to security.
(3/27/2012 1:58:11 PM)
(3/27/2012 2:52:59 PM)
true story!
my suitcase made it to me a month after my flight with all my food, snack missing from it :( was looking forward to it after they told they found my suitcase, but don't get me wrong, i was overjoyed that they found it :)
(3/27/2012 3:08:54 PM)
Locks ??
Has nobody heard of an amazing device called a travel bag lock ? $ 8 solves your problem.
(3/27/2012 3:25:17 PM)
travel like a shlump
its more comfy and they wont steal your louis vuitton
(3/27/2012 3:27:29 PM)
Who packs $100,000's worth of jewelry in a checked bag? If I'm taking any jewelry with me, I keep it in my purse that is with me all the time. I'm sorry for her loss, but really.
(3/27/2012 4:03:42 PM)
they dont let u lock ur luggage
for "security reasons" u cant lock ur luggage anymore. But I gues we should start doing that again
(3/27/2012 5:02:45 PM)
u cant lock it
They say if its not a tsa approved lock, it cant be locked. Oh I get it, we need a lock, that the tsa can open, so they can STEAL ARE STUFF. So how would the lock be helping us anyways. If we need to protect r luggage against tsa.
(3/27/2012 5:06:00 PM)
been there, done that...
when traveling, ALWAYS pack ur most prized possessions with u in hand luggage, jewelry, sheitals, talis & tefillin, etc.
(3/27/2012 8:17:47 PM)
purchase yr ticket with amex , then u will get $ back tru them
(3/27/2012 10:09:29 PM)
jfk victim
it happned to me once where i had a few thousand $ goods stolen from my suit case, thank g-d i had left a credit card out in the open where the baggage handler had taken that as well, and used it the same night, and the guy was caught a few days later after i reported my card has been used right sfter i flown.. and i was in touch with the jfk detectives who were on top of this case.. and i ended up getting reinbursed from the airline. so the guy was caught all from the swipe of using a credit card....
(3/28/2012 12:10:02 AM)
ex-airport security guard
of course theyre gonna steal from you. we work securing a huge airport and get paid $8.25 an hour. tsa gets paid more. but thats a federal job so if they get caught theyre in federal trouble. regular security guards and bagage handlers get nothing. if u want proper workers treat them properly. also we do have fingerprints taken and a background check but that doesnt matter. thy say they are picky about who works. theyre not. no one really wants to work for that little money so who do you think youre gonna get?
(3/28/2012 2:29:13 AM)
TO # 4
Did you know they are cutting pliers, they open the zipper without touching the lock, plastic wrap may do a little more
(3/28/2012 9:43:38 AM)
$160,000 worth of jewelry in a checked bag?
And no insurance? What a colossal FAIL.
(3/28/2012 3:15:26 PM)
Carry On
I always carry on. Now I see I have the right idea
(3/28/2012 6:57:05 PM)
style come with a price
If you want to travel in style, you are running the risk of getting ripped off. Travel like Chossid: old suitcase held together with some ducktape and you'll be safe
(3/29/2012 5:48:57 AM)
You learn fast!
I know someone had a kallah necklace and earings stolen from the luggage. B"H they were able to get another one. Boy, did they learn fast - don't put it in the suitcase!
(3/29/2012 7:00:25 AM)
Me, Of-Course
I remember when I was a kid of 5 or 6, some 20 years ago, we arrived family of 6 and all our luggage was stolen, we had nothing, I remember looking at my mother and she looked afraid and she also was tearing, she was trying not to let me worry but I remember how scared she was, I don't remember anything after that.
Stealing Luggage is not new to anyone, but to this level is pretty bad, I have to admit this Woman is such a twit for putting so much money in her checked luggage without any insurance and shes like 'I cant believe this', whatever, anyway, hopefully Moshiach will come but until then we should set up more cameras
(3/29/2012 3:58:36 PM)
that is very bad news
(3/30/2012 2:48:49 AM)
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