Sea-Tac police warn travelers to be vigilant about baggage theft

VIDEO: Suspected baggage thief caught on camera

Sea-Tac Airport Police are warning passengers to be vigilant about baggage theft as the holiday travel rush ramps up, urging people to get to the baggage carousels quickly to grab their items and not to check in valuables.

Thursday is expected to be the season’s busiest holiday travel day, according to AAA, and the number of people flying will be its highest in 15 years.

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But all those people mean a lot of targets for baggage thieves.

Charging documents show 26-year-old Damien Von Sanders was charged with second-degree theft on Friday, accused of stealing two bags from a carousel at Sea-Tac Airport in late August.

One bag contained items including a Silver MacBook Air computer valued at $1,000 and a Silver Sony 6000 mirrorless camera valued at $600. The other suitcase contained a DJI Osmo camera valued at $250 and a light kit valued at $1,500.

Port of Seattle Detective Darin Beam said what the suspect may not have counted on was the number of cameras all around the airport.

“So we posted his picture on, which is a public site for people to go in and maybe identify people who do various crimes in the region,” Beam said. “An officer from another agency recognized him from a previous arrest and contacted us and let us know, ‘I think this is your fella.’”

Beam said the percentage of thefts at SeaTac has been falling, with 42 million passengers and 195 thefts in 2015 to 49 million passengers and, he estimates, 197 thefts thus far in 2018.

“But unfortunately, if that's your bag, it doesn't matter what the percentage is,” he said. “You’re still a victim.”

Beam advises people to get to their bags as soon as possible once they’re off their plane and not to check valuables.

“I definitely rush there because I don't want anyone to take any of my clothes or anything, you know,” traveler Jasmie Glaspie said.

Traveler Udo Weinmann said he always keeps his medications and electronics in his carry-on bags.

“Like a laptop and stuff, I keep that with me,” he said.

Airlines now put barcodes on luggage that are scanned when they’re loaded onto the carousel, so if a bag is scanned and a passenger can’t find it, it’s likely stolen and should be reported.