Southwest Passenger Uses Craigslist To Track Down Stolen Laptop

This story is useful in two ways. First, as an example of how you can utilize freely available online tools to help yourself when others won’t. And second, as yet another example of why you should never, ever check your laptop on a flight.

This is a lesson a South Carolina woman learned after she decided to check her laptop bag on a Southwest flight from Chicago to Charleston. As you probably guessed, the laptop was not in the bag when it showed up on the carousel.

The passenger tried to get some help from the Southwest staffer on duty, but to no avail.

“She immediately told me Southwest was not responsible for checked computers and she wanted to know why I had checked my computer, which was a real clincher,” the passenger tells NBC Chicago. “They just say you are out of luck.”

But later that night, she followed her gut instinct and looked on Craigslist. And — bizzam! — there was her laptop, complete with the sticker that matches the tattoo on her wrist.

So she contacted the seller, not telling him that she had ID’d the laptop as her own.

“He asked me, ‘Which computer?’ and I said, ‘Well, how many do you have for sale?’ and he said, ’10 or 15.'”

That’s when she called the cops in Chicago, who pretended to be the woman and paid a visit to the seller’s house. Ultimately, three people — none of them Southwest staffers — at that address were arrested and police were able to recover laptops and electronics “removed from checked luggage of ticketed passengers on Southwest Airlines at Midway.”

Unfortunately, even though police know the items were taken from Southwest flights, they have been unable to match the items up with specific passengers.

From NBC Chicago:

[A] Southwest spokesperson said the airline takes a theft report only if a passenger chooses to file one. The airline does not require its employees to warn passengers who are checking items that are not covered in its Contract of Carriage rules. Southwest said its policies are similar to those of other major carriers and that in this case, its employees stayed in touch with [the passenger] until her laptop was relocated. Southwest says it works closely with law enforcement when thefts do occur.

The passenger ultimately got her laptop back, but it had already been scrubbed of all its contents. She tells NBC Chicago that she can’t believe the airline can let this kind of theft occur.

“I asked them if they have cameras on their baggage handlers and they said no… I asked them, ‘Do you search when they come or when they leave the airport?’ And the answer was no,” she said.

For its part, the Transportation Security Administration says it reviewed the footage it has of the laptop bag and confirms that the computer was still intact when it passed through security. But the TSA has no control over what happens after it hands the bag back to Southwest.

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

Woman Becomes Sleuth After Laptop Stolen from Checked Baggage [NBCchicago.com]