DA: Airline employee, fiancee stole bags piled up at San Francisco’s airport

Posted at 6:12 AM, Jul 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-31 08:12:28-04
By Amanda Watts and Greg Botelho


(CNN) — In the hubbub at San Francisco’s airport following the crash of Asiana Flight 214, an airline employee and his fiancee allegedly stole luggage and exchanged some of its contents at a nearby Nordstrom for cash, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

The two suspects — Sean Crudup, a United customer service representative, and Raychas Thomas, his fiancee — were arrested as the latter was catching a flight to Hawaii, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Both are free on bail.

The incident happened in the aftermath of the July 6 crash-landing of Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport. Two people died right after the Boeing 777 shed parts, spun and burst into flames and another died six days later; about 180 others were hurt.

Thousands more were inconvenienced when departing and incoming air traffic at the airport was halted in the hours after the crash.

In some cases, incoming flights were diverted to other airports in California. Passengers’ bags sometimes made it to San Francisco before they did, leading to a pileup of luggage.

That’s where, according to the district attorney’s office, the case against the suspects begins.

Surveillance video showed Crudup stealing bags and handing them to his fiancee and another unnamed woman, the prosecutor’s office said.

Thomas exchanged valuable clothing that had been in the bags at a Nordstrom store in Pleasanton, California, for about $5,000, the district attorney’s office said.

More of the victims’ property was found during a search of the home that Crudup and Thomas shared, according to authorities.

Crudup and Thomas have been charged with one count each of grand theft and two counts each of commercial burglaries, District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said. Convictions on these charges — all of them felonies — carries a maximum sentence of 4 years and 4 months in prison.

Thomas posted bail “right away” and is set to appear in court August 26 for her arraignment, the district attorney notes. Her fiancee, Crudup, was in court last Friday, July 26, at which time he’s pleaded not guilty. Wagstaffe didn’t know the name of the court-appointed attorney assigned to Crudup, who posted $75,000 bail over the weekend.

In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, United said that it has “zero tolerance for any theft.”

“We are assisting the San Francisco Police Department in this investigation,” the airline said, “and this employee has been held out of service.”

CNN’s Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.