(NaturalNews) How can you further insult airline passengers who have been diverted to another airport because of a tragedy? Answer: Steal from them.
According to CBS San Fransciso, San Mateo County, Calif., prosecutors are charging an employee of United Airlines and his wife with grand theft and burglary for allegedly stealing luggage of passengers who were scheduled to fly into San Francisco International but who were diverted after the recent Asiana Airlines crash.
Scores of flights were diverted from San Fran's busy airport following the July 6 crash, but bags from some of the diverted flights still came there.
Karen Guidotti, the chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo County, said Sean Sharif Crudup, a 44 year old United customer service rep from Richmond, stole bags from at least one of the diverted passengers.
"The surveillance tape showed Mr. Crudup stealing the bags and then handing them off to his co-defendant, Ms. Thomas, who is his wife, and another woman," she told reporters, adding that some of the luggage contained valuable items.
"There was quite a bit of high-end clothing in the luggage and Ms. Thomas returned it to a Nordstrom's in Pleasanton and got cash in exchange," she said.
'We hold our employees to the highest standard'
The complaint alleges that Raychas Thomas, 32, received some $5,000 when she returned clothing stolen from the luggage to a local shopping mall. The couple was summarily arrested as she attempted to board a flight to Hawaii, CBS San Fransciso reported. Guidotti said additional property from the victims was later found in the couple's home. Authorities said the couple faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted of all the charges.
Crudup has been released on $75,000 bail; his wife is out on $50,000 bail. They are scheduled to be arraigned in August.
The luggage they allegedly took belonged to another couple who discovered it was missing when they went to San Francisco from their diverted location to retrieve it.
United officials sought to distance the company from its employee, saying that it was assisting investigators with the case. "We hold our employees to the highest standard and have zero tolerance for any theft," said United spokesman Christen David.
Three Chinese teens were killed and dozens more passengers were injured when the Boeing 777 struck a seawall in front of the runway, lost its tail, then skidded to a halt before catching fire. Most passengers escaped unharmed in what some aviation experts say could very easily have resulted in scores of fatalities.