Sep 3, 2010 9:38 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Phoenix airport worker arrested in luggage thefts

A man who worked at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was arrested Thursday on suspicion that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items from the luggage of passengers in a case that could include hundreds of victims from around the world.

Officers saw Michael Hegstad, 23, take two boxes from a luggage conveyor belt and take out their contents on Aug. 26. He was taken into custody and admitted to repeatedly removing personal belongings from baggage, police Sgt. Steve Martos said Thursday.

Officers have retrieved a large amount of stolen personal items with an estimated value in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and say it will take some time to find all the victims involved and the time frame in which the items were taken.

"There could very well be hundreds of victims from across the country and across the globe," Martos said.

Police plan to itemize all the stolen goods, which include electronics, figure out a timeline of when the items were taken, and set up a hotline next week for potential victims to call.

Police said Hegsted was not employed with Sky Harbor, but was working as a contract employee with Carrollton, Texas-based Elite Line Services and passed a background check before being hired.



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