Local News

Keep an Eye Out for Grinch at Airports

Posted December 18, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Airports across the country will be packed this weekend with people heading home for the holidays. But, beware! While you're unloading the car or fumbling with your ticket, a scam artist could be waiting for just the right moment to become the Grinch that steals your Christmas.

The bag you carry on is what thieves long for -- the bag in which you carry money, jewelry, phones, and even laptop computers. According to airport police, people expect thieves to be in New York, Atlanta, or Washington DC, but there were 24 personal thefts at RDU International this year.

On the radio dial, RDU dispenses safety advice to air travelers. It's needed because thieves find the holiday season prime time for their business. Traveler Ron Verlander says he likes to keep his bags close.

University of North Carolina student Leah Pegues says she has a healthy does of airport paranoia.

Police say inattention at curbside is an invitation to thieves. You have to hold on to every bag.

Airport officials say you shouldn't fly looking prosperous. If you display expensive clothes and jewelry, it tips off thieves that what's in your luggage is probably worth taking.

Editor's Note:

Airport security experts say there are five danger spots where you really need to watch your luggage.

  • Curbside skycab, where you first arrive at the airport, is where a thief finds the first opportunity. Don't take your eyes off your baggage until you see it placed on a conveyer belt by the attendant.
  • Don't let your guard down in the restroom. Don't place jackets, purses, or travel bags on hooks inside stalls. Keep everything at your side or between your feet.
  • Travelers can usually find trouble at phone banks. They are particularly popular spots for scam artists. Often, one person will distract you, why the other goes for your bags or wallet.
  • Security checkpoints are also security nightmares. Wait for the person in front of you to clear security checkpoints before you let go of your bags.
  • Baggage claim is shopping at its best for thieves. Never leave one bag unattended -- even for a second -- while you get your other luggage off the conveyer belt.

    Photographer:Mark Copeland