Thefts At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Have Doubled Since 2003

If you’re looking to start or end a vacation with having something stolen from your luggage, D/FW Airport is a good place to go. At least that’s the impression you get when you look at the rising number of reported thefts over the past 5 years.

News 8 examined six years of crime data at D/FW Airport and discovered a troubling trend. Thefts are on the rise.

It is and has been the most reported crime at D/FW since 2003.

In that year, police took 227 reports not including stolen vehicles, records revealed. In 2008, the number of reported thefts almost tripled [or how about "doubled" - Ed.] to 607.

The total numbers of thefts and stolen vehicles at D/FW are

  • 2003 – 266
  • 2004 – 364
  • 2005 – 385
  • 2006 – 468
  • 2007 – 534
  • 2008 – 607

D/FW officials have everything under control, however, because they are taking this seriously:

“This is a place the size of the island of Manhattan with 225,000 daily residents all moving,” said Ken Capps, a spokesman at D/FW Airport. “And so, in the grand scheme of things, the crime rate is low, but it’s something we take very seriously.”

They say they’re beefing up security, but unless every theft at the airport is being committed by a traveler, we’re more curious about some transparency into their hiring and screening process, and what they plan on doing to reduce employee-related theft.

“Internal security really needs to be looked at,” said Gilbert Humphrey, traveler.

Someone stole a hard drive out of his checked suitcase last month, which included photos of his two tours in Iraq he had yet to backup.

Just to rub salt in the wound, the TV station points out that reported thefts for Love Field—which is considerably smaller than D/FW—has never topped 20 in each of the past five years.

“D/FW Airport adds police, cameras as thefts rise” [WFAA-TV] (Thanks to James!)
(Photo: cote)

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  1. emilymarion333 says:

    Last time I flew in/out of Dallas/Ft.Worth I had my camera stolen out of my check luggage.

    • 1stMarDiv says:

      I once put a bunch of change that came out to about five bucks in one of the compartments of my luggage when I flew a couple years ago (can’t remember the airline). When I came home that night and unpacked it was gone. At least it wasn’t a camera. As a photographer I feel for ya.@emilymarion333:

    • Jaynor says:

      @emilymarion333: I NEVER check my personal electronics for this reason. I’ve had friends and coworkers lose phones, walkie talkies, laptops and laser pointers (the expensive “you’re actually giving a presentation with it” green laser kind)from checked baggage.

      You can’t lock it and there’s no accountability by the airlines = Not putting anything more valuable than my shoes in a checked bag.

      • EyeHeartPie says:

        @Jaynor: For some reason I thought carrying a high-powered laser pointer onto a plane is against FAA rules. However, doing some quick google searches, I can’t find any such rules. Maybe I was just imagining things…

    • Victor15b says:

      @emilymarion333:

      After a stressful weekend and delyed flight I stopped at bar in DFW for a rum ‘n coke. Only to discover later that my debit card had been charged for NINE DOLLARS!!
      Those thieves are getting sneakier every day.

      oh wait…….

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    It’s the economy stupid!!!!

  3. chrisjames says:

    This is a place the size of the island of Manhattan

    Most of that is runways and tarmac, silly hyperbolic spokesman. If these thefts are occurring out there, then a lot of people aren’t doing their jobs right.

    Flying would be more exciting, though, with obstacle course runways.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @chrisjames: Good call.

      I’ve been there a few times, mostly to drop off friends. While the place is huge, the “theft zones” (for lack of a better term) aren’t that huge.

      If Love Field were to have on-par theft stats, I’d expect them to be 1/3 or 1/6 of DFW’s theft stats. As we can see, 600/20 = 30x. Bad DFW!

    • paragrab says:

      @chrisjames: Yeah, but I have never had any point of reference for how small manhattan really is. I find it amazing.

  4. Corporate_guy says:

    Check the nearest trailer park for a man named J-Roc.

  5. Plates says:

    I suspect most of this is TSA employees.

    • philipbarrett says:

      @Plates: Both of my thefts at DFW involved the removal of a TSA lock.

      • SybilDisobedience says:

        @philipbarrett: I live in the DFW area and have fortunately avoided electronic theft. However, I HAVE had my underwear stolen out of my luggage. Something tells me there are panty fetishists everywhere, though, so it’s hard to pinpoint DFW for that one.

  6. sir_eccles says:

    Perhaps all that extra security in airports is looking in the wrong direction?

  7. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Don’t mess with Texas.

    • LandruBek says:

      @yaj: It would be nice to know how much of the DFW theft was pilfered from checked bags, and how much theft was sticky fingers working in the public areas. As much as I dislike the Theatrical Security Administration, I have no idea how much of this trend to lay at their doorstep.

  8. jswilson64 says:

    Looking really hard for a way to blame the victims, but failing miserably.

  9. VigilanteKitteh says:

    Ugh… this scares me, as I’ll be going through there in April :S

  10. XylonMosquito says:

    This is why you don’t put valuables into checked luggage. Duh.

  11. floraposte says:

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance that travel numbers have gone up at DFW, and that the crime raise is simply proportionate?

    • Canino says:

      @floraposte: No. Travel numbers at DFW have certainly not gone up at that rate. If I were to guess, I would think they’ve actually stayed the same or gone down slightly since the late 90s/early 2000s.

      • chrisjames says:

        @Canino: Passenger rates have gone up, but only by about 12%, whereas the theft rate was up by about %200. That’s only between 2003 and 2007 (2008 data isn’t collected yet it seems).

        There are probably a lot of factors involved here, but ramped TSA presence has the most obvious correlation. Other reasons could be construction of the new terminal, more crowding (the relation between passenger rates and crowding is non-linear), and economic downturn taking effect on the non-TSA security teams or baggage handlers.

        Vehicle thefts have always been a big issue at DFW, so it would be nice to see those numbers separate.

      • rinse says:

        @Canino: According to chrisjames, you fail at guessing. :P

        • Canino says:

          @rinse: According to chrisjames, you fail at guessing.

          And that’s gotten me in trouble more than once. The time before this it involved what turned out to be a Malaysian transvestite. Guess I should quit guessing.

  12. Yossarian says:

    I prefer Love/Southwest but if I have to use DFW I park off-site, but that’s more for price than security.

    I don’t check a bag unless I absolutely have to but, when I do, the stuff in the bag will be of use only to someone who needs clothes for someone freakishly tall or has a desperate need for toothpaste or deodorant.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My dad used to run the police department at SFO, and if you heard the things I heard, you would never check anything of value in your luggage, and you would also never include anything breakable. “Throwing contests” are common.

    I feel bad for the victims, but checking valuables into your luggage in any circumstance is just being naively trusting.

  14. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    Those cameras are going to do exactly jack shit about the crime rates unless they install it inside restricted areas where TSA thieves handle luggage.

  15. Zyada says:

    I worked for a period of time at DFW airport. They put out a little newsletter for employees which had details of the thefts for the week.

    In every case I read, the victim had left their belongings unattended for some period of time, sometimes for just a couple of minutes. That’s not blaming the victims – it’s just an easy place for opportunistic theives to work.

    I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare DFW to Love Field. Love serves primarily business commuters, who are usually used to traveling and less likely to have like cameras (but more likely to have laptops, I will grant). DFW has a lot more vacation traffic and a lot of pass-through traffic as they are a hub for AA.

    I’m very anal about my possessions when I’m in an airport. I make sure that I keep fully aware of where they are, and if I’m sitting down, I often have my purse and camera stuff touching my legs or feet.

  16. nybiker says:

    “In that year, police took 227 reports not including stolen vehicles, records revealed. In 2008, the number of reported thefts almost tripled [or how about "doubled" - Ed.] to 607.”

    Which editor is suggesting changing ‘almost tripled’ to ‘doubled’? Because my math tells me that 607 _is_ almost three times 227.

    Or am I misunderstanding what the editor is suggesting be changed?

  17. yaj says:

    The TSA are the biggest bunch of thieves at LAX; no doubt the same caliber of individual is working for the TSA at DFW, hence the same problems. Put your broken electronics in your luggage and watch them disappear, which will save you the problem of disposing of them, then look for them on ebay, another den of thieves. Great world we’re living in, eh?

  18. Jubilance22 says:

    I NEVER check anything of value because I don’t trust TSA at any airport. Sometimes I end up with a lot of stuff in my carry-on, but its better than being pissed that my camera/Gucci bag/hard drive/whatever got stolen from my checked luggage.

  19. RStui says:

    Count myself as one of those 2005 thefts. How these people feel good about stealing Christmas presents from a Deploying member of the US military, I do not know.

    But they did. And yes, I am still upset about that. Not in a mad way, but a sad way. I’ll never be able to look at those gifts and think about the time spent with my family.

  20. savdavid says:

    “We have everything under control” they say. Then they go back to scratching their butts and chatting with each other as your luggage is stolen under their noses.

    • starrion says:

      @savdavid:

      “We have everything under control” they say. Then they go back to scratching their butts and chatting with each other as your luggage is stolen under their noses.”

      They know the luggage is being stolen. They don’t care.
      The TSA blames the airline, the airline blames the cut-rate outsourcer that does their groundhandling and the TSA. The outsourcer has no comment.

      The Ground guys get paid $7 an hour to manhandle bags onto the plane in wind, snow and rain. But they have some sweet electronics at home.

    • zark169 says:

      @savdavid: Exactly. If they really had it under control the number of thefts would have gone down, if not stopped completely.

  21. maxx22 says:

    When they catch one of these guys, which the must do at least occasionally, he should be given an alternative to prison:

    Stand on a platform in the middle of the airport wearing a sign that says: I stole from passengers’ luggage. 50 minutes / hour; 8 hours / day – for a year.. . a Kodak moment that will convince the rest of the staff (and their families) that perhaps they should keep their hands out of other people’s luggage.

  22. copious28 says:

    Actually, I used to work at that airport during college: the problem is two fold: 1) more contract people handling your bags 2) DFW is friggen huge and there are no security cameras where the bags go, under the building.
    AA cut off the livelyhood of the guys that take bags at the curb downstairs (from $40k a year to closer to $20k). I believe they were employees and now they are contract. They pretty much live on tips alone. I dont doubt that this is directly attributed to the cuts they made. Not to mention they pay crappy and will take reformed convicts.
    We (another airline) had a guy that was sending stolen property (video cameras, computers, etc) to another station (Shreveport, I think) to pick up. The two of them were making an extra $45k a year on fenced items.

  23. dubs29 says:

    To those passing this off on TSA they look in only a portion of the bags. Guess what they don’t take and load them on the airline idiots. I worked part time for continental in Houston. The items disappearing from your bags were from the airline employees 80% of the time, the skycaps 16% and TSA maybe 1% an 3% for idiot passengers that put belongings in cheap plastic bags or torn up luggage an the crap falls out.

  24. private1111 says:

    Yeah exactly, its the employees stealing from passengers. Your got it dubs

  25. Tankueray says:

    In January I was at DFW in the Samsung lounge in terminal A I think, and this TSA guy walks in with a 64oz Big Gulp, sits down and watches football. I snapped a picture of it but didn’t know how to get it to twitter. Anyway, if they’re allowed to break the liquids rule, do you think they care if they can take your stuff when no one’s looking?