A baggage handler from Birmingham airport has been jailed for plundering holidaymakers’ suitcases of iPads, Iphones and Macbooks over an 18 month period.
Rajesh Taheem, 45, used his position as a bag technician at Birmingham International to loot passengers’ luggage before it was loaded onto departing flights.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how travellers only knew they had been targeted when they arrived at their destinations to find their property missing.
Jailing Taheem, of Wolverhampton, for 20 months after he admitted nine charges of theft, Recorder Christopher Tickle told the family man: “You had a good job and a good salary, were a valued member of society.
“You had a particular degree of trust because you were looking after and handling luggage that could belong to anyone in this room, in this building, going through the airport.
“We put things in bags and we expect to find them at the other end when we get off the plane.
“We entrust them to you…to look after them and you abused that trust repeatedly.
“I do not think it sends the right message to suspend the sentence.
“It was deliberate and persistent, it is theft, stealing people’s valuable property when they have entrusted it to you.
“There was no need to do this.”
The court heard Taheem had worked at Birmingham Airport for 14 years and had a higher security clearance than many of his co-workers.
Madhu Rai, prosecuting, said the offences took place between June 2013 and January this year.
The bag snatcher was finally caught when one of his victims tracked her Macbook Air to Taheem’s neighbour’s house on Spondon Road, Wolverhampton.
The elderly resident told police Taheem had given it to her and that he was a baggage handler.
He was quickly arrested and a search of his work locker, home and car uncovered more items looted from passengers’ bags.
Included in the haul was a camera which Taheem had used to take a selfie.
Ms Rai said: “He would have details of flights and transfers, there was a degree of knowledge he, and only he, had.
“He was responsible for handling luggage up to the point the bags were ready to be loaded onto the plane.
“He had exclusive access and on nine occasions he deliberately tampered with bags to steal various items.”
In total it was estimated the cost of the plundered items, an iPod, four iPhones, two iPads, two Macbooks and a camera, was between £2,000 and £5,000.
All of the stolen good were recovered and returned to their owners.
After his arrest Taheem was sacked by the airport and had since found work as a labourer working on an extension to the Midland Metro tram system through Birmingham City Centre.
Balbir Singh, defending, agreed with a probation report which described the offences as “stupid, immature and greedy.”
He went on: “It defies logic what he did
“He is completely honest and frank with the court saying it should not have happened, it was unnecessary and he could not believe he had done this.”