Authorities are still trying determine how long an alleged theft ring at Los Angeles International Airport was operating, but say a group of baggage handlers was responsible for one of the largest property heists in the airport's history.
The focus of the current investigation, Gannon said, was on employees at Menzies Aviation, which provides services to airports internationally.
Investigators homed in on the company after noticing a "surge" in thefts at two terminals it services: the Tom Bradley International Terminal and Terminal 4.
In a statement, Menzies Aviation said it believed the alleged thefts were "limited to a handful of employees, acting independently." Menzies said its workers go through background checks by the company, LAX and U.S. Customs and Border Protection prior to employment. They also undergo extensive training to "perform their jobs safely, efficiently and with integrity," it said.
The greatest concern is that if the screening system can be circumvented or isn't effective, airport workers could be enlisted by others, such as criminal organizations or terrorist groups, said Brian Jenkins, a senior researcher and aviation security expert at Rand Corp., a Santa Monica think tank.
"Clearly this is a problem and a vulnerability," he said.
Investigators said they do not believe that the thieves were part of an organized crime group, and Gannon described them as a "group who took advantage of the opportunities."
He said that the airport had increased the number of its surveillance cameras in response to security concerns.