An airline employee allegedly stole thousands of dollars worth of jewellery from a passenger’s bag at a major airport last month.
United Airlines employee Rafael Magana, 42, has been charged with felony theft at Denver International Airport, the Denver District Attorney’s office stated. The value of the jewellery was allegedly USD 130,000 (AUD 172,640), including a pair of diamond earrings and a pearl encrusted bracelet, each valued at USD 35,000 (AUD 46,500).
The descriptions are from a Denver police search warrant cited by ABC News in the US.
An outline of the case, according to the warrant, is that a United passenger travelling from Aspen, Colorado, found her cosmetics case containing jewellery had fallen from her suitcase. Fox News in Denver described the victim as a “New York philanthropist”.
She learned that Aspen airport staff had found the cosmetics case and put it on her flight. Video from Denver Airport’s surveillance system, however, allegedly appears to show gate agent Magana taking the cosmetic case, walking to a nearby coffee shop and obtaining a brown paper bag and placing the cosmetic bag in it.
Police contacted Magana a few days later at the airport. When they eventually arrested him he allegedly offered to return the jewellery as long as he could escort police officers to his home so they would not “upset his 65-year-old landlord,” the warrant states.
United Airlines said in a statement: “We hold our employees to the highest standards and have zero tolerance for theft. We are cooperating with the Denver Police Department in this matter and have removed the employee from his duties.”
ABC News reported that Magana had not yet entered a plea and his lawyer did not immediately respond to the news organisation’s request for comment.
Denver District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey is kept pretty busy, according to his website. In a separate and unrelated case just days beforehand, he formally charged a man accused of impersonating a medical doctor, who had allegedly been illegally performing operations without a licence.
Written by Peter Needham