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AirTag leads to arrest of airline worker accused of stealing at least $15,000 worth of items from luggage

NBC News logo NBC News 8/17/2022 Elisha Fieldstadt
© Provided by NBC News

An Apple AirTag led to the arrest of an airline subcontractor accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of items from luggage at a Florida airport.

Giovanni De Luca, 19, was charged with two counts of grand theft after authorities recovered the stolen items from his home, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release last week.

Authorities said that a traveler had reported in July that her luggage never made it to her destination. The items inside were worth about $1,600.

She said an Apple AirTag, a tracking device that triggers alerts on iPhones, iPads and Apple computers, had been in her luggage and showed it was on Kathy Court in Mary Esther, about 50 miles east of Pensacola.

On Aug. 9, another traveler reported that more than $15,000 worth of jewelry and other items had been taken from his luggage.

Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies investigating both suspected thefts cross-referenced Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport employees who lived near Kathy Court and found De Luca at his home. He was arrested on Aug. 10.

The items reported missing on Aug. 9 were recovered, and De Luca admitted to rummaging through someone else's luggage and removing an Apple AirTag, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The woman's luggage has not been found.

It's unclear what airline De Luca subcontracted for and if he has a lawyer.

AirTags have become helpful to travelers this year as airlines are understaffed, flights get changed and luggage is more likely to get lost. As of May, 237,828 items of luggage have been reported missing compared with 132,071 bags reported mishandled during the same time period last year, according to the Department of Transportation.

The Apple product, however, has been criticized for making it easy for people to stalk others and steal cars by placing AirTags with an unsuspecting victim and tracking them.

Apple said the "AirTag is designed to discourage unwanted tracking."

"If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert. After a while, if you still haven’t found it, the AirTag will start playing a sound to let you know it’s there," according to Apple's website.


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