Florida airport employee accused of stealing $16K worth of travelers’ items

Published: August 12, 2022 5:37 AM EDT
An airline subcontractor at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport has been arrested on allegations of stealing items worth up to $16K.
Giovanni De Luca, 19. Credit: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

An airline subcontractor working out of the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport in Florida has been arrested on allegations of stealing luggage and items from passengers worth a total of up to $16,000, authorities announced Thursday.

The arrest followed an investigation into missing items and luggage from travelers, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office reports. Mary Esther resident Giovanni De Luca, 19, faces two counts of grand theft.

According to the sheriff’s office, a passenger who traveled in July reported that her suitcase never arrived at her final destination. The woman said it contained items worth over $1,600. An Apple AirTag tracking device inside the bag showed its location to be on Kathy Court in Mary Esther, the sheriff’s office said. Another traveler claimed that over $15,000 dollars worth of jewelry and other items were taken from his luggage during a trip Tuesday.

Following the reports, investigators from the sheriff’s office consulted a database of airline employees who lived near Kathy Court. Investigators made “consensual contact” with De Luca Wednesday, where they entered his home and recovered the items which had gone missing on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said.

While De Luca admitted to combing through the suitcase which had gone missing in July, and removing its AirTag, the items in it have not yet been recovered, the sheriff’s office reports.

“This arrest is an example of excellent teamwork by our airport security unit, our investigators, and the airport to find the person responsible for these thefts and make sure he is held responsible,” Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said in a statement.