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Delta Is Piloting a New Baggage Theft Prevention Program in Las Vegas

Dec 25, 2013 7:00 am

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If the solution to theft prevention requires more staff, it’s doubtful that the airlines will want to assist. It’s easier for them to argue over replacement value than pay salaries for humans.

— Jason Clampet

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Delta Air Lines, the second-busiest commercial air carrier at McCarran International Airport, has begun a two-month pilot program to prevent thefts from the airport’s baggage claim carousels.

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based airline said Delta would test the effectiveness of the “positive bag match” program before determining whether to continue it and possibly use it at other airports.

The representative would not say what prompted the initiation of the program, which includes cordoning off the two Terminal 1 baggage carousels where Delta passengers claim their bags with employees that check that bag tag numbers match a passenger’s claim stub.

“At Delta’s request, the airport has provided stanchions to cordon off the space around carousels 14 and 16,” a McCarran spokesman said. “Delta is footing the costs associated with staffing these areas during this trial period.”

Theft from bags is a cyclical crime of opportunity, airport security experts say. At McCarran, Metro Police partners with the Clark County Aviation Department to prevent thefts with additional security cameras and undercover sting operations. McCarran officials say increased airline staffing in the vicinity of carousels and tag match programs represent another layer of security against thefts.

McCarran also uses radio-frequency identification tags that enable personnel to monitor the movement of a suitcase through the airport.

Prior to 9/11, a consortium of airlines paid McCarran to staff the baggage claim areas with a bag tag matching system. When security check lines lengthened with increased security measures after 9/11, a majority of airlines voted to discontinue the baggage claim program in favor of increasing staffing at check-ins.

Airports around the country have had varying degrees of success stopping organized groups that move from city to city, stealing valuables from suitcases.

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