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Prosecutors Expose Possible Theft Ring on St. Louis Airplanes

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Need help getting finding an item you left on a airplane?  Call the Lambert airport police at 314-426-8100.

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Airport police may have broken up a ring of thieves stealing iPads, iPods and eBook readers from planes. FOX 2’s Chris Hayes uncovered this exclusive story about janitor staff who reportedly worked together to rip off travelers.

A recent sting at Lambert Airport makes this story even more incredible.  Police recently tested employees and caught airport workers stealing stuff.  It was all over the news earlier this year, but it apparently didn’t stop four women from stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronics.

On August 7th, The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office indicted four employees of ABM Janitorial for stealing electronics left behind on the SW Airlines planes they clean.

Lawanda Barnes, Tiffany Barnes, Rachel Doss and Ashley Glen all face Class C felony charges.

We tried talking to two of the women who live in an apartment that sits in the shadow of the airport.  A man inside said they could not talk.

Criminal indictments say three of the women stole six iPads, two iPods, five Kindles and one Nook eBook reader.  Prosecutors say the 4th woman for took one of the stolen iPads to sell at a pawn shop.

Tom Bateman said it does not surprise him.  In fact, he said he expects people to steal something he leaves on a plane.  Bateman said, “Yes, I don't dare (leave something on a plane).

Hayes followed up, “That's kind of sad.”

Bateman, “It is. In this day and age it is.”

Hayes, “Why do you expect it?”

Bateman, “You know the way the economy is somebody's hurting for stuff, if somebody sees something they're going to pick it up.”

Others say it's common for people to leave stuff behind and passengers should not be punished for being forgetful. Melissa Maybearry works at a restaurant.  She said, “Ladies have left their purses and I automatically take them to the manager and get them back to the person.  They're local people here in the community so they’re quick to come back and get their stuff and they're so grateful.”

The indictments say some of the women brought the electronics to a Cash America pawn shop on St. Charles Rock Rd. A spokesperson for the franchise says Cash America stores note all property in a national database to help police crack cases like this.

Police report they recovered some of the electronics and returned them to travelers.

You can download apps for apple devices called “find my iPhone.”  Another recent indictment notes police solved a case with the help of that application. 

ABM responded to this case with this statement. “Pursuant to ABM’s long-standing policies and procedures, the individuals involved were terminated from their positions with the Company immediately following the incident in November 2011.  All individuals employed by ABM undergo background checks as a condition of their employment, including one conducted by the TSA for airport employees.  Those background checks did not reveal information that would have prevented these individuals’ hiring.  After the incident occurred, ABM turned the case over to local law enforcement and has and will continue to cooperate with the authorities.”

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