MIAMI -- Four times since mid-June, police say they watched videotape of Juan Fidalgo and Alis Jimenez walk up to carousels at Miami International Airport, and leave with luggage.
None of it was their own, police said.
On July 25, the two men were arrested after police found them at a home at 7641 NW 16th Ave. Fidalgo, 41, was charged with 16 counts of grand theft for stealing in excess of $25,000 worth of items.
His friend Jimenez, 37, was charged with two counts of grand theft. Police said the items he stole were valued at $2,000. Jimenez had outstanding warrants for his arrest from Palm Beach County.
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Police also said they found numerous pieces of luggage in the home and that the men admitted to also stealing luggage from Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport.
Though police first spotted the men stealing luggage on an airport security camera on June 11, they weren’t arrested for over a month — and until they had stolen luggage at least three more times at MIA. Miami-Dade County police say those dates are June 13, July 9, and July 16.
Police said there was a simple reason for the delayed arrests: They didn’t know who the men were.
The weren’t employees at the airport, apparently just a couple of guys who thought it would be a good idea to go to the airport, lift luggage off the carousel, take it outside in the waiting area, then load it into Jimenez’s Mazda Millenium, and drive away.
The four instances of alleged theft were caught on video, and in each instance a passenger eventually went to airport authorities or law enforcement to say their luggage was missing.
The Palm Beach Post reported last week that Jimenez is now in the Palm Beach County Jail, where he is facing three counts of grand theft for stealing luggage valued at $18,000. Police there, say they too have video of Jimenez lifting other people’s luggage.
The Post reported Jimenez made it easy for police to track him: The license plate on his Mazda was clearly visible to security surveillance cameras and Palm Beach County International Airport.
Although police believe most of the luggage has been recovered and returned to the rightful owners, they’re putting the remainders on display at 10 Tuesday morning in an airport conference room.