Update: String of luggage thefts at YVR raises security concerns

Seven charges have been laid against Vancouver resident Miriam Tremblay, 26, for luggage theft at Vancouver International Airport.

These charges follow a string of luggage thefts at YVR, which raise questions about the level of security at, and ease of access to, the domestic arrivals’ baggage claim area, where the thefts took place.

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Tremblay’s Aug. 6 arrest, and subsequent charges, follows the July arrest of a man who was suspected of stealing bags in domestic arrivals, after being captured on surveillance video during an earlier theft. 

Tremblay was scheduled to appear in court Sept. 11.

Another woman, 60-year-old Miriam Fajardo – a foreign national believed to be part of an organized theft group that travels from airport to airport – was arrested in April in connection with luggage thefts. She faced six charges related to theft.

And in 2017, a 46-year-old man was arrested for a luggage-stealing spree from the domestic arrivals' carousels.

In a statement to the News Sept. 11, YVR said they have increased security in the area and blocked off certain access points. The airport has also added digital signage to “key areas” to remind travellers to be aware of their belongings.

However, on Sept. 10, the News travelled to YVR to observe the domestic baggage claim area. At least half a dozen people, who appeared to be at the airport to meet travellers, walked past the swing-door barricades into the baggage area. Some went in and out of the area a few times. There was also one sign, posted at an area without barricades, which stated “passengers only beyond this point.”

Richmond News’ reporter Alan Campbell witnessed a similar occurrence when he was at the domestic arrivals area in August to pick up family. 

According to Campbell, he noticed dozens of people “apparently acknowledging and ignoring the signs and barriers that separate the baggage claim from the greeting area.”

Many, said Campbell, walked into the area and proceeded unchallenged for about 50 yards, past the carousels to the doors where travellers first enter the area after their flight.

When asked to comment on the News’ observations, YVR said that there are “multiple layers of security in place at the airport, some of which are not visible to the public.”

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