Two NAIA security personnel nabbed for theft

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One of the suspects

Two Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 security personnel were charged with qualified theft after stealing 1,700 Australian dollars (P68,100) from a Japanese tourist during Holy Week.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal said Office for Transportation Security (OTS) personnel Stephen Bartolo and Demmie James Timtim were charged based on the complaint of Yuya Sakata, 25, of Fukuoka, Japan.

Monreal said Sakata arrived in Manila at around 12:45 pm on Holy Wednesday on board Cebu Pacific flight 5J40 from Sydney, Australia.

After arrival, Sakata went out of the terminal building to find a smoking area and he went in at around 7 p.m. for his connecting flight to Cebu at 9:45 p.m.

Sakata said he put his wallet, which had AUD$2,700, inside his hand-carry bag, which went through the X-ray machine at the terminal’s Gate 2.

During he security inspection, Bartolo searched Sakata’s luggage after the x-ray machine operator allegedly saw a “prohibited” object inside.

Sakata said he discovered the theft only when he was already at the check-in counter, when he checked his wallet and discovered that it contained only AUD$1,000.

The tourist reported the incident to a security guard and the Airport Police Department (APD) immediately conducted an investigation.

During a re-enactment, Sakata positively pinpointed Bartolo as the one who searched his luggage during the security inspection. Investigators reviewed the CCTV footage of the security check and reportedly saw Bartolo taking out the money from Sakata’s wallet.

They invited Bartolo to the APD office for investigation and he later admitted that he took the money from Sakata’s wallet while searching the tourist’s luggage.

Bartolo took out from his pocket two AUD$50 bills and told investigators that Timtim, an OTS intelligence aide, had the rest of the money.

The airport police managed to recover four AUD$50 bills from the pocket of Timtim’s jacket but $1,400 remained missing.

Monreal immediately ordered the revocation of Bartolo and Timtim’s MIAA access passes and the filing of the criminal charges against the two suspects.

In previous years, NAIA gained notoriety especially after the “tanim-bala” scam of some of its security personnel was exposed in 2015. It was recently named as one of the “most improved” airports in the world in an international survey.

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