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Airline passenger tracks down stolen luggage to airport worker's home using Apple watch

A resolute Spirit Airlines passenger tracked down her stolen luggage to the home of an airport retail worker after it vanished from a Florida airport.

Losing your luggage on a flight is any passenger's worst nightmare, but what if it ends up at an airline worker's home?

That’s exactly what happened to Spirit Airlines passenger Paola Garcia, who used one of her Apple devices to track down her belongings after they were allegedly swiped by a worker inside Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, according to Local 10.

Garcia told the news outlet that she had been waiting for her small pink hard-shell suitcase containing Apple devices like her personal MacBook and two Apple Watches, as well as her designer clothes and jewelry, to appear on the baggage belt at Terminal 4, but it never showed.  

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The college student said she waited for two hours and then panic set in as she needed the items, particularly her laptop for her studies, as she had to prepare for an exam the next day. The incident took place on March 3 and Garcia’s belongings were valued at between $5,000 and $10,000, according to court documents.  

"In my mind, I’m thinking I need my computer because I go to the university, I need my computer no matter what," Garcia told Local 10.

She said she typically takes the bag and her valuables on board when she travels, but in this instance the airline made her check it. This is a common requirement by airlines when overhead bins on planes become full. 

Nevertheless, Spirit Airlines told her not to worry and that they would send her luggage to her home the next day.

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But the following day, one of the watches that was in her bag began pinging its location at a house in Fort Lauderdale, and not the airport. 

Determined to retrieve her belongings, Garcia called the home but no one was there. She took video and still pictures revealing several pieces of luggage strewn across the front of the home but none of them belonged to her.

She contacted the police, who discovered that the theft suspect – Junior Bazile, a worker for Paradise Shops at the airport – lived at the house and was working at the airport on the day Garcia's bag vanished.

Police arrived at the scene and asked Garcia why she decided to travel to the house.

"The first thing the police told me was like, ‘What are you doing here? This is so dangerous for you to be here,’" Garcia told Local 10.

According to the court documents, CCTV footage revealed Bazile entering the Paradise storage room with a pink hard shell roller bag, which matched the description of the stolen luggage.

Bazile can then be seen rummaging through the luggage and then placing it underneath the desk while taking out an Apple MacBook and other items. He then places the smaller items in a black bag and the MacBook in a clear plastic bag. It's unclear how he came into possession of the bag.

He was later arrested and charged with grand theft, which is a felony offense in Florida if the valuables taken are worth over $750. He could face up to five to 30 years in prison and fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.

Spirit Airlines tells FOX Business that it is not aware of any evidence that any Spirit employee was involved in the alleged theft. The airline said it issued a reimbursement check to Garcia last month. 

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The Broward County Aviation Department (BCAD), which operates the airport, tells FOX Business it does not condone any illegal activity at the airport.

BCAD says all airport employees must undergo a criminal history records check and a security threat assessment in order to obtain an airport badge, as required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

"When BCAD is made aware of any illegal activity that may be occurring at FLL, we work closely with the appropriate local and/or federal law enforcement partners to address the matter as swiftly as possible. Please note, passenger bags checked with an airline are under that carrier’s care and responsibility."

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