A traveler who put a tracking device in her bag helped sheriff’s deputies in Florida discover an airport employee who was accused of stealing greater than $16,000 in goods from passengers’ luggage, the authorities said.
Giovanni De Luca, 19, a baggage handler at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, was arrested on Aug. 10 and charged with two felony counts of grand theft, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said. The sheriff’s office said Mr. De Luca, who worked for a subcontractor on the airport, had stolen from two passengers.
On July 14, the primary passenger flew on a Delta/Air France flight into Destin-Fort Walton Beach, but her luggage never arrived, in line with an arrest report. Her bag contained clothes, makeup and other items value $1,648, in line with the arrest report.
The bag also included an Apple AirTag, a Bluetooth-enabled tracking device that sends its location to its user to assist them locate lost items. Placing such tracking devices in luggage has change into a gorgeous option for a lot of travelers this summer as airport chaos has led to more lost or delayed baggage.
The passenger told investigators that she received a notification on July 31, two weeks after she landed, that the device had been energetic on a street in Mary Esther, a town near the airport within the Florida Panhandle. Deputies looked through the addresses of airport employees and located that Mr. De Luca lived on the road, in line with the arrest report.
Days later, on Aug. 4, an worker for a Delta Air Lines subcontractor filed a report with the sheriff’s office that he saw Mr. De Luca undergo one other passenger’s checked bag on the outgoing baggage carousel, in line with the arrest report.
Mr. De Luca was again working on Aug. 9 when a person flying from Destin-Fort Walton Beach reported to the sheriff’s office that $15,000 in jewelry and sunglasses had been stolen from his luggage, in line with the arrest report.
The subsequent day, sheriff’s deputies confronted Mr. De Luca at his home, where they recovered the missing jewelry and sunglasses, and arrested him, the sheriff’s office said. He also admitted to going through the girl’s missing bag from July 14 and destroying the AirTag when he found it, but her items weren’t recovered, the sheriff’s office said.
He was booked in Okaloosa County on Aug. 10 and released the following day, in line with jail records. Mr. De Luca couldn’t be reached for comment, and it was unclear if he had a lawyer.
A Delta spokesperson said in a press release that the airline was “fully cooperating” within the investigation.
“Delta has zero tolerance for this alleged conduct by anyone related to Delta, including those that work for contractors,” the spokesperson said.
While AirTags and other tracking devices have been used to thwart theft, privacy groups have also sounded alarms about their use to abet stalking or tracking people without their knowledge. Apple said in February that it could make changes to make it tougher for people to make use of AirTags to trace people without their knowledge, though critics said the steps didn’t go far enough.