Three people were arrested on suspicion of stealing baggage at Spokane International Airport this week after airport police set up surveillance a day after a rash of stolen bags was reported.
Police moved quickly after receiving a complaint Monday by airline workers that bags were being taken before passengers could claim them, airport officials said.
“The airlines reported to us that they had a pattern of thefts on Monday,” said Todd Woodard, spokesman for the airport.
Airport police reviewed security video from the baggage claim areas, which gave officers a pretty good idea who to look for in case the thieves returned.
The officers then set up surveillance in the baggage claim area, waiting for the suspects. It didn’t take long. The arrests came about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday when they attempted to steal a bag.
Woodard said the thieves on Monday had worked their way across claim areas of all three concourses. The thefts were random among the airlines.
In all, seven bags were stolen, including the one grabbed Tuesday at the time of the arrests.
Baggage theft is rare, Woodard said, adding that this is the first case in at least 10 years. As a result, it is not likely to trigger the need for changes in baggage claim security, he said.
Phillip W. Payne, 26, was booked into Spokane County Jail on Tuesday evening on several counts of theft, a charge of trafficking in stolen property and resisting arrest.
Booked with him was Beth A. Payne, 29, on two counts of theft. She was initially identified by police as Beth Boots, her maiden name.
The third suspect booked into jail was Justin C. Ryan, 24, on three counts of theft.