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Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

AirTag in luggage led police to more than $16,000 in stolen items

AirTag in luggage led police to more than $16,000 in stolen items

The small Apple tracking device brought police to the home of an airline subcontractor in Florida.
Apple AirTags recently helped Florida police locate more than $16,000 of items stolen from luggage from the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.

The suspect, 19-year-old Giovanni De Luca, was an airline subcontractor, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

In July, a traveler reported that her luggage never arrived at her destination, and it was later listed as lost or stolen. The bag contained items worth more than $1,600, according to police. The Apple AirTag in her suitcase, however, showed that it was last active in the area of Kathy Court in Mary Esther, Fla. Another traveler also reported that more than $15,000 in jewelry and other belongings were taken from his luggage on Aug. 9.

While investigating, deputies cross-referenced employees who lived in the vicinity of Kathy Court, and De Luca came up. Investigators went to his home in the area on Aug. 10, and the items that were reported missing were recovered.

De Luca admitted to rummaging through the first victim’s suitcase and removing an Apple AirTag, but her belongings still have not been recovered. He is currently facing two counts of grand theft.

The small Apple tracking devices have become part of a travelers toolbox during a chaotic summer that’s been filled with canceled flights and lost luggage. Passengers have used them to locate bags when airlines said they were unable to be located.

“Traveling friends: consider getting an AirTag for your luggage. Saved my life today. And possibly the life of a dozen bagels,” Simon Doubleday, a historian at Hofstra University tweeted.

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said he was able to help friends with missing bags “by showing airport staff exactly where the bags were.” He said that he was only able to do this “because they had AirTags inside.”

So far this year in the United States, luggage has been mishandled at higher rates. In May 2022, more than 237,000 piece of baggage were mishandled, up from more than 132,000 from May 2021.

Lost or backed-up luggage has plagued international travelers, too — maybe even worse than in the United States. Earlier this summer, bags piled up at Heathrow Airport in London, thanks to a shortage of handlers. Last month, Delta sent an extra plane to London to pick up 1,000 pieces of stranded luggage.
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