13th April 2024
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Guardia Civil arrest 14 airport workers in Tenerife for alleged theft from luggage

Fourteen workers at one of Spain’s main airports for tourists have been arrested on suspicion of stealing items from checked-in luggage, the Guardia Civil police said on Friday.

Police seized allegedly stolen items worth almost €2 million, including around €13,000 in cash, from the group of employees at the largest airport in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, a statement said. Another 20 airport employees are under investigation in the same case.

The Sur-Reina Sofía de Tenerife airport handles about 11 million passengers a year, most of them European tourists. The investigation began after an increase in passenger complaints about items missing from their luggage, the police statement said.

The thefts occurred as baggage was being placed in the aircrafts’ hold, police said.

When the suitcases were transferred to the planes, they were loaded and unloaded at a slower pace and with greater distance between them. Inside the hold, the alleged thieves forced open suitcases out of sight of the rest of the users, and punctured the zipper of the suitcases to open them completely. They then took out valuables and shut them again, leaving the bags with the appearance of not being tampered with.

According to the police statement, the alleged members of the gang were ‘perfectly structured, with functions defined in a hierarchical manner’. Each member one was in charge of one of the actions of the crime: choosing the flight, hiding the stolen effects, removing them from the airport facilities, selling them to jewellery dealers or through the internet, and the distribution of profits.

The Civil Guard carried out several searches, both at the lockers of the airport workers and in their private vehicles and homes. Authorities seized 29 luxury watches, 120 items of jewellery, 22 high-end cell phones and assorted electronic devices. The suspects had sold many other items online or in local stores, police believe.

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