Airline passengers concerned following Lambert luggage theft

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ST. LOUIS – A Florissant man is behind bars, after Lambert Airport police say he snatched at least five suitcases from baggage claim carousels.

Anyone can park at the airport, walk into the baggage claim area, grab a suitcase off a carousel, and walk out. In this case, the suspect was caught on surveillance, but catching him did not bring the victims’ belongings back.

Police said 42-year-old Andre Brown walked into the baggage claim areas of both terminals on five separate occasions over the last few weeks, and surreptitiously grabbed a suitcase off the conveyor belt.

One victim said not long after filing a missing bag claim with Southwest Airlines, she said a nearby car wash manager called her. He found her suitcase and another in one of his car wash stalls.

The car wash, located on Airport Road in Berkeley, had caught Brown on surveillance in that stall. Airport detectives told the victim the same man was also caught on camera at Lambert.

The surveillance footage, now part of the court case, could not be released, but it ultimately led to five felony stealing charges for Brown.

This is not the first baggage theft story Fox 2 News has covered at Lambert Airport.

Passengers hope airlines will do more to keep their checked baggage safe. The thefts led travelers to wonder why airline employees generally don't check their baggage claim tickets anymore.

A Southwest spokesperson said there are problems with the so-called 'positive bag claim' method, from long lines, to lost bag tickets.

Spokeswoman Danielle Karstens said there are other ways Southwest works to prevent theft.

‘‘Southwest staffs employees in the carousel area,” she said. ‘‘These employees are trained to spot suspicious activity, and if needed, will approach a customer and verify claim checks. We also utilize high-definition surveillance to identify potential theft.”

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