Think twice before you check your luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport…
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.
…“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.
…“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.
Even you do check bags, don’t check $160,000 worth of jewelry. And further life advice: don’t invest “a lifetime of..savings” in jewelry in any case.
Still, adding to the chunk out of your life lost waiting at baggage claim, and the risk of loss especially when connecting and especially when connecting between airlines, is the risk of outright theft.
I’m not sure that i’m willing to believe 200 thefts a day, that strikes me as hyperbolic, perhaps there are a handful of thefts and you get to 200 adding up each individual item (a pair of socks is two items?) taken. But items out of your possession are… items out of your possession.
On a two week international trip I’ll check a bag, I don’t bring especially valuable items with me and I certainly don’t check my valuables, just my clothes. I’ve also had generally bad luck with U.S. carriers and outstanding luck with Asian ones. Singapore and Cathay Pacific will proactively verify for me that they have my bags on board, they’ll retag my bags as-needed even while in transit, it’s amazing service I’d never get from a U.S. carrier. Still, I also try to have clothing sufficient for a couple of days in my carryon because there’s always the risk of loss (or, I suppose, theft!).