Baggage handlers accused of stealing laptops

January 11, 2010 5:29:42 PM PST
Five baggage handlers are accused of stealing from passengers at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Eyewitness News has learned more about the alleged theft ring and how the baggage handlers operated. Houston police say the theft is an ongoing scheme -- screeners stealing laptop computers. They don't know how long this has been going on or how many computers in all they might have ripped off.

As of now five Bush Airport security personnel are accused of stealing laptops from at least one traveler. They worked for Air Serv, a company contracted with Continental Airlines. Oshton Dounseroux and Antoine White appeared in court Monday morning. They are the alleged lookouts. All five are accused of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Donna Hawkins with the Harris County District Attorney's Office said, "They targeted mainly Hispanic foreign travelers in their thefts."

Court documents claim the suspects were manning a secured re-check area beyond customs in the international terminal. Authorities say the uniformed officers there instructed a passenger traveling from Mexico through Houston to Brazil on December 6 to put his laptops, if he had any, on a conveyor belt to be screened. The traveler put two computers valued at about $3,000 each on the belt.

"He was then instructed by the employee, as two other employees were standing by, all wearing uniforms, to go to a different terminal to collect his laptops," Hawkins explained.

The laptops, though, weren't there. According to court records, the suspects would then stop the conveyor belt, then crawl inside the machine to retrieve the property.

Terrance Anderson allegedly admitted stealing one of the computers and also told investigators which of his fellow employees were involved. Police found one of the victim's computer bags in a bathroom not far from the screening locati0n.

Continental says Air Serv employees have all been terminated. Air Serv did not return calls for comment. Bond was set for the five defendants at $50,000 each. Each could be sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted.