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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Airport worker jailed over theft
Gatwick Airport
Cameras at the airport filmed Vasconelos going through luggage
A Gatwick Airport security guard who stole from passengers' luggage after screening bags for items he wanted to take has been jailed for 18 months.

Portuguese Jose Vasconelos, 34, of Borage Close, Crawley, was arrested in March following a year-long operation to halt thefts by airport staff.

Surveillance cameras were installed to monitor staff and Vasconelos was seen going through luggage on 13 occasions.

He was jailed after admitting seven charges of theft at Lewes Crown Court.

X-ray machine

The father-of-three initially denied theft but when police searched his home they found about 80 stolen items, including a Cartier watch worth 2,500.

Filmed surveillance showed how he selected items to steal as luggage passed through an X-ray machine used to screen bags.

Vasconelos, who asked for a further 35 counts of theft and attempted theft to be taken into account, is believed to have stolen at least 7,000 worth of goods.

The crackdown by Sussex Police, airport operator BAA and British Airways involved more than 100 police officers and resulted in several arrests.

Sentencing Vasconelos, Judge Richard Hayward said: "You were in a position of considerable trust and responsibility, and I am afraid you abused that trust."

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