San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Baggage Handlers Under Investigation

If you left the JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport minus a few belongings in recent years, you are not the only one.

National police seized stolen items from two baggage handlers – last names Rosales and Chan – on May 13. Airport police chief Stephen Madden said the now suspended baggage handlers tried to smuggle the items, stolen from passengers’ baggage, in plastic bags hidden under the seats of tourism vans.

“It’s a serious problem we’ve had here for years, since the airport first opened,” he said. “They were there loading the baggage and they took advantage by stealing items from people’s luggage.”

The seized items included digital cameras, a digital video camera, cell phones, wristwatches, a Palm Pilot and an MP3 Player.

Madden said the thefts are the tip of the iceberg because authorities believe the suspects are part of a well-organized fencing operation. He also asked the public to file police reports to help with the prosecution of the two suspects.

“We still have to prove the items are stolen,” he said. “So far, we’ve only had one Tico come in to file a report and claim their stolen items.”

Victims of airport theft should call 2442-0575. English-speaking staff is available.

The chief declined to name the baggage handling company, saying company officials are cooperating in the investigation.


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