A former employee at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport has been arrested for stealing more than $15,000 worth of items from passenger luggage. The 19-year-old baggage handler was charged with two counts of grand theft following his arrest on August 10, according to NBC. And it was all thanks to an Apple AirTag that was among the stolen items.
Multiple luggage mishandling cases had been reported at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport from July through August. One incident was filed after a woman said her suitcase never made it to her destination and was assumed to be lost or stolen by the (unnamed) airline. The woman said her luggage contained an estimated $1,600 worth of items, including an Apple AirTag.
The AirTag itself is only worth $29.99, but in this case its value was much more than that. The small Apple devices allow iPhone, iPad or MacBook users to locate items at home or while traveling. AirTags have been both praised and criticized for their ability to track whatever or whoever they attach to, but this arrest highlights at least one good use for AirTags.
The woman told Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies the AirTag in her suitcase relayed its location, pointing to a road in a neighboring city: it was in Mary Esther, Florida, somewhere on Kathy Court.
Then, on August 9, another report of lost or stolen luggage was filed at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. This time, the value of the items, which included jewelry among other things, was over $15,000. This prompted the Okaloosa County deputies to use the information from the first report, as they claim, to cross-reference “employees who lived in the vicinity of Kathy Court.” That narrowed down the suspects, and led deputies to the home of the baggage handler who stole the items from both incidents, worth over $16,600 in all.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the baggage handler and later charged him. The Sheriff’s office claims the handler admitted to rummaging through the suitcase reported lost in July and taking the Apple AirTag. Under what impulse would someone willingly steal a tracking device? Who knows!
The rest of the woman’s things still haven’t been found, but at least the jewelry and other items from the second incident were recovered. Cases of mishandled luggage are becoming more common. NBC cites the Transportation Department in the U.S., which says 237,828 pieces of luggage were reported as mishandled as of May, 2o22. That’s just one more reason to pack light and bring a carry-on.