Organised Baggage Theft at Paris Airport
Monday 01 October 2007
Nineteen baggage handlers working at Charles-de-Gaulle Paris airport have been found guilty of the theft of baggage.
A similar case occured in December 2006 when 20 baggage handlers at the airport were found guilty of theft.
Together, the two cases mean that over the past two years around 40 baggage handlers have been caught with their fingers in passengers' luggage.
Authorities have been forced to acknowledge that these were not isolated incidents, but an organised theft.
Neither does the problem appear to be restricted to Paris, for last year twelve baggage handlers at Nice airport were arrested on suspicion of the theft of baggage items, following over 400 complaints from passengers in a single year. It is estimated that losses amounted to around €500,000.
The most recent incident at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle covered a period during 2001 to 2003, when airport police intercepted 27 baggage handlers after viewing footage from CCTV screens in the airport terminal.
The handlers did not deny culpability, although as part of their defence they argued that it was custom and practice for it to happen!
Two of the handlers were sent to prison for around a year, whilst others were given suspended sentences. In addition, each was found up to €15,000 in damages, payable to Air France and their employer, Bag Ground Services (BGS).
Somewhat to the surprise of prosecutors, none of the felons was banned by the court from exercising this activity in the future. Nevertheless, it is unlikely many will find an employer who will readily hire them.
Air France reported to the court having paid out around €700,000 in compensation to passengers and had sought €1,250,000 in total damages from the baggage handling company. The airport finally reached an out of court settlement with the company concerning compensation for the thefts.