Holiday traveler uses AirTag to track her stolen luggage to garage full of stolen suitcases

ErickPHOTOPRO/ShutterStock Ralf Geithe/ShutterStock @shinebykatjames/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘This is organized bag theft’: Holiday traveler uses AirTag to track her luggage. It gets taken to a garage full of stolen suitcases

Travel Agent here, never check a bag!'


Alexandra Samuels


Posted on Dec 24, 2023   Updated on Dec 24, 2023, 10:29 am CST

With a number of people utilizing airports for their holiday travel, one content creator decided to share a “scam” that cost her her luggage. 

Kat James (@shinebykatjames) said that she and her kids landed in Los Angeles’ airport, LAX, after a trip. James said that she and her children didn’t “dawdle” and arrived at the luggage carousel shortly after their plane landed. 

“So we’re waiting, the bags are going ’round and ’round… but my suitcase is not coming,” James said. James was sad when she realized her suitcase was gone—but remembered that she had an AirTag in her luggage. 

“Thank God I put an Apple tag in that bag,” she said. And via AirTag, James saw that her bag was indeed at LAX—but at a different terminal.

Upon getting to the terminal where her bag was supposed to be, though, James said she still couldn’t find her possessions. Looking at her AirTag app again, James said she realized that her bag was moving throughout the airport. But it was moving so much that it eventually left LAX.

That’s when James decided to use her boyfriend’s car to chase down her bag. 

“Now my boyfriend,” she explained, “is down for this.”

James said that he drove, while she tracked the bag via her AirTag app. Eventually, she noticed that the person with her bag turned down a “little side street” that James’ boyfriend said was part of a “not good” neighborhood.

Then, the bag stopped moving. James said that she and her boyfriend tracked it down to a nearby house, which had its garage open.

“Inside that garage, there are f*cking hundreds of suitcases. They are all black suitcases, piled floor-to-ceiling,” James said. “Hundreds of them. And there’s a van in the driveway unloading them.”

James called what she witnessed “organized bag theft.” James said her boyfriend eventually retrieved her suitcase from the thieves, but that it was “already emptied.”

Then, James called the police. As she did, she said there was a “mass exodus” from the house as all the thieves and cars left. When the police arrived, James said they told her there was “absolutely nothing” they could do and refused to enter the house. 

Toward the end, James said the “point” of her video was to encourage travelers to use carry-on as luggage.

“I’m a girl of luxury. I am not a minimalist,” she said. “I will squish everything into a f*cking carry-on for the rest of my life.”

She also recommended that travelers buy colored suitcases and collect them “right at the chute” at the luggage carousel. 

The Daily Dot has reached out to James via TikTok comment. As of Sunday morning, her nearly six-minute clip had over 243,300 views.

@shinebykatjames So apparently what happens is a group of people go to an airport they all set up a different terminals and wait for bags. They each grab a couple of bags and then a van goes from terminal to terminal to pick everybody up and then they leave the airport. The investigators also told me, not only are they doing this to steal stuff out of the bags, but they now have your name and your address, your phone number your email and it can assist in identity fraud so be careful out there. #holidaytravel #airport #lostsuitcase #carryononly #onlyme #LAX ♬ original sound – Kat James

In the accompanying video caption, James explained how the thieves got away with this. Essentially, she said, they’ll go to an airport and set up at different terminals.

“They each grab a couple of bags and then a van goes from terminal to terminal to pick everybody up,” she wrote. She said investigators also told her that, in addition to stealing your stuff, these thieves can also get “your name and your address, your phone number, your email, and it can assist in identity fraud.”

In the comments, several viewers doubled down on her advice to avoid checking bags if you can swing it. 

“Travel Agent here, never check a bag,” one viewer wrote. 

“10 days in Europe with only a carry-on and I looked good every day,” another said.

Other travelers, meanwhile, shared their own tips for keeping their bags safe. 

“I put hello kitty stickers all over mine so it looks like a trash suitcase,” one user wrote.

“My hot pink leopard print Hello Kitty is so embarrassing, but no one has stolen it and i can see it a million miles away,” another added. 

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*First Published: Dec 24, 2023, 2:00 pm CST