Four times since mid-June, police say, they watched videotape of Juan Fidalgo and Alis Jimenez walk up to baggage carousels at Miami International Airport, and leave with luggage.
None of it was their own, police said.
On July 25, the men were arrested after police found them at a home at 7641 NW 16th Ave. Fidalgo, 41, was charged with 16 counts of grand theft for stealing in excess of $25,000 worth of items.
His friend Jimenez, 37, was charged with two counts of grand theft. Police said the items he stole were valued at $2,000. There also were warrents for Jimenez’s arrest from Palm Beach County.
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Police also said they found numerous pieces of luggage in the home and that the men also admitted to stealing luggage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport.
Though police first spotted the men stealing luggage on an airport security camera on June 11, they weren’t arrested for over a month — and until they had stolen luggage at least three more times at MIA — on June 13, July 9 and July 16, Miami-Dade County police said.
Police said there was a simple reason for the delayed arrests: They didn’t know who the men were.
They weren’t airport employees, apparently just a couple of guys who thought it would be a good idea to go to the airport, lift luggage off the carousel, take it outside in the waiting area, then load it into Jimenez’s Mazda Millenium and drive away, police said.
The four instances of alleged theft were caught on video, and in each instance a passenger eventually went to airport authorities or police to say their luggage was missing.
The Palm Beach Post reported last week that Jimenez is now in the Palm Beach County Jail, where he faces three counts of grand theft for allegedly stealing luggage valued at $18,000. Police there say they, too, have video of Jimenez lifting other people’s luggage.
The Post reported that Jimenez made it easy for police to track him: The license plate on his Mazda was clearly visible to security surveillance cameras at Palm Beach International Airport.
Although Miami-Dade police believe most of the luggage has been recovered and returned to its rightful owners, they are putting the rest on display at 10 Tuesday morning in an MIA conference room.