Police – NBC 6 South Florida

In the summer of 2021, NBC 6 received a tip that jerseys belonging to a Major League Baseball team were stolen from checked baggage at Miami International Airport. NBC 6 then submitted a public records request to the Miami-Dade Police Department in reference to reports of lost or stolen items between June 1 and mid-August 2021.

After waiting over a year, NBC 6 obtained these records in August 2022. The records revealed approximately 34 reports filed with the MDPD regarding lost or stolen items. Of these, 26 report itemized items lost or stolen from checked baggage.

Total losses listed in the 34 reports obtained by NBC 6 totaled more than about $300,000.

Records revealed that not only one MLB team lost jerseys after having equipment stolen from the MIA, but three.

A woman who only asked to be referred to as ‘Sarah’ out of concern for her safety told NBC 6 she was one of the people with losses detailed in the reports. She says it all started with a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Sarah tells NBC 6 that she had no intention of checking her carry-on bag, but says she did so reluctantly after an airline employee asked her to when she boarded the plane.

“I hesitated because I thought it was awkward, and I wasn’t thinking, and I basically handed him my bag because he said the plane was leaving,” Sarah said. “So either we went upstairs, checked my bag, or that was it.”

It wasn’t until she had already arrived in Miami and unpacked that she said she realized something was wrong.

“I opened the bag and my whole jewelry box was gone,” she said.

She says her jewelry, including a Cartier bracelet, a Rolex and her engagement ring, was missing. Not only did she say the jewelry was missing, but also a Gucci handbag, Christian Dior sandals and more. All of the items Sarah reported stolen from the MDPD, in the carry-on she says she agreed to check, were worth a total of almost $170,000.

“To have your engagement ring stolen, your wedding bands, things you wanted to pass on to your children and be raped like that, it’s heartbreaking. And it’s been a while now, and it still makes me feel uncomfortable traveling on commercial flights,” Sarah said.

Among dozens of reports obtained by NBC 6, items reported lost or stolen included brands such as Off-White, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Jordan, Gucci and more. While some reports detailed the disappearance of expensive electronic devices, others reported the disappearance of thousands of dollars in cash.

Among the most surprising items allegedly missing from MIA luggage were jerseys belonging to notable baseball players on MLB rosters in 2021. The New York Yankees were listed in a report as having lost two jerseys , while the New York Mets reported five jerseys stolen and the San Diego Padres reported four jerseys missing. The total value of the 11 missing MLB jerseys was approximately $11,000.

In reports detailing the disappearance of Mets, Yankees and Padres jerseys, the MDPD wrote, “…team gear arrived at Miami International on a Delta Airlines flight. When the equipment arrived at the LoanDepot Park…the inventory was missing jerseys.

Delta had no comment on the teams’ jerseys, but did comment on Sarah’s flight.

“Last year, we thoroughly investigated this matter and took corrective action with our supplier partner. We have zero tolerance for the theft of personal items and baggage when in our care” , said a Delta spokesperson.

Shortly after Sarah’s items were stolen, two men were arrested and charged.

The MDPD says Danny Rodriguez, who was a Delta baggage handler, and Carlos Collazo, who was an employee of a company contracted by Delta, were charged with grand larceny and admitted to stealing Sarah’s items before putting his Rolex as a pawn.

Court records show that Rodriguez and Collazo pleaded guilty and received ten years of probation. Sarah says she hasn’t seen her things since they were stolen.

“Obviously everyone knew, even the people who took the items, how much they meant to me, and that was all I wanted was my stuff back,” she said.

NBC 6 interviewed MDPD spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta about the agency’s role at MIA and what is done to keep your stories safe. MDPD is a primary agency responsible for investigating crimes at the airport.

“Well, I don’t think people need to worry. I think people have to be careful and be one step ahead of the game. Understand, as I mentioned before, a million people could pass through this airport on any given day,” Zabaleta said.

So far this year, the MDPD has received approximately 64 reports of MIA-related thefts. Of those reports in 2022, the MDPD says 27 were confirmed to the MIA while 37 were considered “transiting flights,” meaning investigators were unable to determine if the theft occurred. is produced at the MIA or at another airport.

In the same time window in 2021, approximately 79 reports in total were filed with the MDPD, including 49 baggage thefts that occurred at the MIA and 30 reports that were considered “transit thefts.” But police say they have only made arrests in a fraction of those cases, including airport workers in Sarah’s case.

No one has been arrested for stealing the shirts.

“Nothing happens in a vacuum,” Zabaleta said. “These surveys can become very complex due to the large number of variables involved. In many of these cases, we have yet to determine where it happened.

Zabaleta encourages airport passengers to be on the lookout for unusual behavior, to keep their most valuable items in their carry-on luggage with them on the plane, and advises against traveling with large sums of cash.

Police say they are working around the clock with federal law enforcement to follow leads, conduct surveillance and watch for unusual activity at the MIA. They say it’s a crime of opportunity, and it’s not unique to MIA. TSA data from 2017 revealed about 343 lost or damaged property claims at MIA, compared to 239 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 489 at JFK Airport in New York City, and 519 at Hollywood International Airport. Los Angeles.

The commonality of the problem is why Sarah says she is sharing her story, hoping it will spare someone else the pain she has endured.

“You have to keep everything locked and everything safe and overthinking and overthinking, even when you’re busy and in a rush,” she said. “Just make sure you have everything of value on you, or leave it at home and don’t take it with you.”

Flyers rights defender Paul Hudson spoke virtually to NBC 6 about the options you have to protect your assets.

“It’s a lot more common than most people realize. Some of the things you can do to prevent it, of course, aren’t carrying valuables or checking baggage, but keeping them there. put in your carry-on,” he said.

Hudson recommends purchasing travel insurance and says that if you notice items missing from your luggage or your luggage itself missing, you should alert the airline and the TSA as soon as possible.

“If you are traveling overseas, there are shrink wrapping services that will wrap your checked baggage and make it very hard to break into. The problem is that at the national level these things are generally not allowed. And even if you have a lock on your luggage, it’s supposed to be TSA compliant. In other words, [TSA] can open it,” Hudson said.

Neal T. Doss