Twice last week, travelers arriving at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport caught thieves trying to make off with their luggage after snatching the bags from the baggage claim carousels, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office arrest reports.
And as the holiday travel season picks up, officials are reminding travelers to keep an eye on their luggage.
Donald Bourne, 30, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was booked with two counts of theft and two counts of possession of stolen property after a woman spotted him with her suitcase near baggage claiming exit just after 8 pm on Nov. 16, authorities said. She confronted him, and their argument drew the attention of a Sheriff’s Office deputy, the report said.
Investigators confirmed Bourne had the woman’s bag. When they checked surveillance video from the baggage claim area, they allegedly saw him take other passengers’ suitcases from the conveyer belt earlier in the day. Those bags had been reported missing, according to the report.
A day earlier, Charles Smith, 21, of Metairie, was booked with theft and disturbed the peace after he allegedly grabbed another man’s luggage from the baggage claim carousel leading to an physical altercation outside the terminal, an arrest report said.
The New Orleans airport is expecting passenger numbers approaching pre-COVID levels during the Thanksgiving travel season, which begins Tuesday and continues through Monday, said Erin Burns, director of communications for the New Orleans Aviation Board. Sunday is expected to be the busiest day.
The Sheriff’s Office will increase staffing based on the airport’s expected traveler numbers, according to Capt. Jason Rivarde, a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. But deputies can’t check every bag tp make sure it’s leaving with its actual owner.
Authorities offer these tips to avoid baggage theft:
- Avoid checking luggage – If possible, try to squeeze all of your clothing and necessities into your carry-on bags so you can keep your things with you.
- Don’t pack valuables or expensive items in checked bags.
- Make your luggage easily identifiable – think bright colors, busy patterns, or even ribbons or scarves tied to the handle.
- Avoid pricey luggage Thieves may be tempted to snatch expensive-looking bags believing there will be valuables inside.
- Label your bags clearly – Put your name and contact information on tags inside and outside of your luggage.
- Lock your luggage – Use a TSA-approved lock or strap to secure your bags.
- Get to baggage claim as soon as possible once off the plane.
- Photograph the contents of your luggage – If your bags get lost or are stolen, it helps to have proof of what was inside for reporting purposes.