Home / National News / United Airlines Employee Allegedly Steals $130K in Jewelry from Passenger

 

(DENVER) — A United Airlines employee allegedly stole $130,000 worth of jewelry from a passenger’s bag earlier this month at Denver International Airport, according to the Denver District Attorney’s office.

Rafael Magana, 42 of Commerce City, Colorado, has been charged with one count of felony theft.

The jewelry included a $35,000 pair of diamond earrings and a “pearl encrusted bracelet,” also valued at $35,000, according to the Denver police search warrant.

The United passenger was traveling Aug. 8 from Aspen, Colorado, to Denver when she discovered a cosmetics case containing the jewelry had fallen from her suitcase in the Aspen airport, the warrant states.

She learned that Aspen airport staff had found the case and put it on her flight. Upon arrival at the Denver airport, the cosmetic case was unloaded and put onto a cart with other carry-on luggage, which was then put into an area near the gate where passengers can grab their bags as they leave the airplane, the search warrant states.

Video from the Denver Airport’s surveillance system appears to show Magana “taking possession of the … cosmetic case … and intentionally wrapping the case with a white piece of [printer] paper,” at the gate, according to the statement of probable cause provided by the District Attorney’s office.

Magana walked over to a nearby coffee shop where he obtained a brown paper bag and then “artfully conceale[d] the wrapped cosmetic bag into the paper bag,” according to the statement.

Back at the gate, Magana picked up his phones, water bottle and the brown paper bag and left his post at the customer service desk, according to the search warrant.

When police contacted him a few days later at the airport about the missing cosmetics case, Magana told them he had left the case on the service desk, the search warrant stated.

Denver police arrested Magana, who eventually offered to return the jewelry as long as he could escort the police officers to his home so they would not “upset his 65-year-old landlord,” according to the warrant.

In a statement, United Airlines said, “We hold our employees to the highest standards and have zero tolerance for theft. We are cooperating with the Denver Police Department in this matter and have removed the employee from his duties.”

Magana has not yet entered a plea and his lawyer did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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