WBTV Investigates: Nearly 200 thefts reported at Charlotte airport since start of last year

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 8:31 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Nearly 200 thefts have been reported at Charlotte Douglas International Airport since the beginning of 2020, even with all of the security and cameras. Few of the criminals are ever caught.

One veteran was stunned at just how easy it Is for stuff to be stolen.

Scott Shorter is retired from the Marines and last November he was flying to visit one of his veteran friends in San Diego with a special gift.

“I was able to get 2 XBOXs. I got one for me and a friend I had served in Iraq with back in ’04,” Shorter said.

When Shorter got to San Diego and opened his checked luggage, the brand-new XBOX was missing.

“It’s just my heart sank. I mean, yeah, that that’s about it. Just heartbreak,” Shorter said.

Shorter filed reports with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, TSA and Frontier Airlines but felt that none of them took it seriously.

“I mean in their mind it’s over, you know they got away with it,” Shorter said of the alleged thief.

Frontier Airlines told Shorter that their Contract of Carriage doesn’t cover stolen items.

Shorter said that TSA told him they would only investigate if he could provide an inspection receipt, but he couldn’t find one in his suitcase.

“You would think when you go to an airport, as secure as it is that you’re safe. And then I found out there that you know you may be safe, but your items are not so there,” Shorter said. “You know there’s a problem there.”

Shorter says CMPD only started looking into his XBOX theft after he started calling and emailing frequently. He says an officer told him he found footage of his luggage being searched by an employee but no video of the actual XBOX being stolen.

“The first thing he told me when he got on the phone was, ‘I understand you have a problem with the investigation. Maybe the first thing you need to realize is your Xbox is gone and you’re not getting it back’,” Shorter said. “CMPD also told me that nobody there would steal it because they have good jobs and they wouldn’t lose it. They wouldn’t lose their jobs over stealing an Xbox.”

We wanted to see just how frequently it was happening in Charlotte so we filed a record request with CMPD for theft reports at the airport since January of 2020.

We found seven reports of passengers claiming items were stolen from their checked luggage but the total number of thefts was stunning.

In just a little over a year there were 190 reports of theft at the airport. The majority of them came from people who said something was stolen at a checkpoint, in a terminal or even on the plane.


  • 36 Wallets/Purses
  • 23 Cellphones
  • 21 Laptops
  • 20 Suitcases/Luggage

Of the 190 theft reports, only seven have been cleared by arrest. Two of those were for shoplifting from airport stores, one arrest was from a different agency and two more were for thefts that happened in the parking lot.

“I just couldn’t believe how easy it was for it to be stolen and how on the backside of it there’s just no repercussions,” Shorter said. “It was just mind blowing to me how easy that thing was gone and no kind of follow-up at all. Just it’s gone.”


  • Mark your bags
  • Move through checkpoint with your belongings
  • Stow carry-on where you can see it
  • Lock your bag
  • If you need it, wear it

WBTV reached out to CMPD about the amount of thefts and the lack of arrests.

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