The Dallas Morning News reports that police have charged an American Airlines worker with theft after authorities searching his home found 171 items believed to be taken from airplanes at Dallas-Ft. Worth. Items included property left behind by passengers and items stolen from American itself.
The worker cleans planes at DFW, and has been with American for 41 years.
An airport spokesman estimated the value of the stolen goods to be around $7,500, and says the worker targeted empty planes and pocketed valuables left behind. He was caught when a missing Palm Pre cell phone was traced to his house. The phone had been erased and given to the worker's son. While at the worker's house, police found various electronic devices, ranging from cameras to iPods and e-book readers, along with airline property.
The worker has been suspended and American is trying to match the items found to their respective owners.
Moral of the story? Don't leave your stuff behind!
In all seriousness, while passengers shouldn't have to worry about airline employees stealing personal property left on planes, this does highlight the importance of packing wisely and keeping track of your stuff. Even if an honest worker found a cell phone, for example, it could be difficult to reunite it with its owner, especially if both plane and passenger are flying on to different destinations.
Personally, I put anything I might need during the flight in a small bag under the seat and put everything else in the overhead. Items I take out, such as a book or iPod, immediately go back in the bag when I'm done. And while I'm waiting for the plane to empty after landing, I do a thorough sweep of my area to make sure nothing slipped under my seat or the seat in front of me.
Readers, have you ever left an item on the plane? Do you have any tricks or routines you use to keep track of your stuff?