Pair Arrested, Charged with Stealing 1,000 Pieces of Luggage

Phoenix, AZ—An arrest has been made in the case of two people suspected of stealing hundreds of pieces of luggage from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Keith Wilson King, 61, and Stacy Lynne Legg-King, 39, were arrested on Monday on charges of theft of property and possession of stolen property. Legg-King was also arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence.

Police said there were so many pieces of luggage at the King residence that they could only estimate the number, which they put at around 1,000. They also said that the interior of the house was in disarray, with many pieces of luggage, numerous items of clothing and even garbage scattered around.

Phoenix Police Detective James Holmes called this situation a “livelihood” for the pair. “There’s a lot of luggage and there’s a lot of victims,” he said.

King was first arrested on a misdemeanor charges several weeks ago, after he was witnessed parking his car at the airport and taking a suitcase from one of the baggage claim carousels. He was released, but police began surveilling him.

On Monday, police followed King back to the airport, where they saw him take another piece of luggage and return to his home with it. They searched the house on Tuesday and made the startling discovery that King and Legg-King had apparently been stealing baggage for some time, although they would not hazard a guess as to how long the thefts have been happening. Investigators are unsure of whether anyone else is involved; any identifying luggage tags have been removed.

In a court document, Officer Kendall Goo wrote, “The amount of luggage being stored inside of the residence was almost surreal.”

A spokesperson for the Phoenix airport told reporters that the airlines had all ceased checking passengers’ baggage claim tickets, which had once been common practice, sometime in the last 10 years. The elimination of these checks had apparently been instituted in order to cut costs.

“We’re evaluating a lot of different possibilities,” said Deborah Ostreicher, explaining that law enforcement and airport officials are collaborating to determine a new security policy at the airport. Airlines and airport security personnel will discuss the possibility or checking passengers’ baggage claim tickets once again.

Airport security experts advise travelers never to put medications, cash, jewelry, electronics or other valuables inside their checked baggage, to lock their bags, to clearly mark their bags, and to retrieve their luggage as soon as possible after landing at their destination.

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