Authorities have surveillance video showing a
United Airlines employee stealing stranded luggage from passengers diverted to other airports because of the Asiana Airlines crash, officials said.
Sean Sharif Crudup, 44, a United Airlines customer service agent and his wife, Raychas Elizabeth Thomas, 32, both of Richmond, Calif., are charged with felony grand theft and two counts of commercial burglary for allegedly stealing the bags from San Francisco International Airport amid the chaos that followed the crash of
Asiana Airlines Flight 214.
Surveillance video allegedly showed Crudup going into an airport baggage office, taking a piece of luggage, bringing it out and handing it to Thomas. He then returned to the office, collected another bag and handed it to a second woman, not yet identified, Wagstaffe said. The group later left the airport.
“Ms. Thomas had taken a bunch of the clothing to Nordstrom to sell it back,” said San Mateo County Dist. Atty. Stephen Wagstaffe. “A search warrant was issued for their home in Richmond, and a large number of the items were found there.”
Crudup and Thomas were arrested at the San Francisco airport where the thefts allegedly occurred. They were heading to Hawaii on July 25 -- Crudup’s birthday, three days before Thomas'.
“Whether we’ll have future charges [against the couple], law enforcement will let us know,” Wagstaffe said. Either way, “Thievery when no one’s around, I find it deplorable, especially if they’re taking advantage of a case like this.... I find it a serious breach of trust.”
The pair are out on bail and are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 26. If convicted, each could face up to four years and four months in prison.
“On July 8 our victims were flying home to SFO from the Cayman Islands,” Wagstaffe said. “Their luggage, several pieces, which contained an extensive amount, $30,000 of clothing … went on an earlier plane and landed at SFO before the crash.”
But the victims’ plane was diverted, Wagstaffe said in an interview, first to Houston and finally to Los Angeles, where they rented a car to drive north. But when they arrived at the luggage area at SFO, their baggage was nowhere to be found. The prosecutor did not identify the victims.
Wagstaffe said it is still unclear whether such theft was an ongoing practice or whether “it was an isolated incident, taking advantage of the hectic world of SFO that day.”
The Asiana crash July 6 killed three young Chinese students and injured nearly 200 passengers and crew members. It also wrought havoc on airline operations in the Bay Area for several days, canceling outgoing flights and causing a large number of incoming flights to be diverted.