14 Spanish airport workers arrested on suspicion of stealing from luggage

MADRID (AP) — Fourteen workers at one of Spain’s main airports for tourists were arrested on suspicion of stealing items from checked-in luggage, police said Friday.

Police seized allegedly stolen items worth almost 2 million euros ($2.2 million), including around 13,000 euros ($14,000) in cash, from the group of employees at the largest airport in Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands, a statement said. Another 20 airport employees are under investigation in the same case.

The Tenerife South airport handles about 11 million passengers a year, most of them European tourists seeking the pleasant climate of the islands off the coast of northwest Africa.

The investigation began after an increase in passenger complaints about items missing from their luggage, the police statement said.

The thefts occurred as baggage was being placed in the aircrafts’ hold, police said. Inside the hold, the alleged thieves forced open suitcases, took out valuables and shut them again.

Authorities seized 29 luxury wristwatches, 120 items of jewelry, 22 high-end cellphones and assorted electronic devices. The suspects had sold many other items online or in local stores, police believe.