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"You Have My Shirt On!" Man Confronts Luggage Thief In Atlanta Airport

Oct 10, 2023

by Gary Leff on March 28, 2023

Jameel Reid flew from Los Angeles to Atlanta and waited for his luggage at baggage claim. Atlanta residents aren't used to waiting half an hour for bags – Delta offers a 20 minute guarantee – so after 30 minutes he pulled out this phone and tracked the location of the missing bag which he’d left an Apple Airtag in. The bag was already outside the airport.

Two days later he saw his bag's airtag location returned to the airport, so he went back himself and contacted airport police. Together they used the tracking on his iPhone to find the bag and suspect. Upon seeing the luggage and the perpretrator, the passenger decleared "You have my shirt on… that's insane. My shirt and my jeans." The man was also wearing his socks and his shoes, and had placed a bottle of alcohol in the bag.

When I first saw the story it seemed like another ‘Airtags save the day with lost luggage‘ meets ‘crazy confrontation with luggage thief‘ although this time not involving with protecting federal nuclear stockpiles. But it's darker than that.

None of the coverage I’ve seen mentions that the luggage thief is homeless. I tracked down the theft victim's original cell phone video of the incident where he and police confronted the man with his bags.

The man was found sleeping in a corner of the airport with bags. He's wearing the luggage owner's shirt, jeans, socks and shoes because they’re fresh clothes. And he had someone else's bag as well – so this wasn't his first theft.

In most cases I tend to think that putting a tag on your bag that says there's an Airtag inside is as good as actually having one for deterring thieves, although in this case that may not have worked. I’d have had a hard time pressing charges against the thief and would have let him keep the shirt, pants, socks and shoes fully recognizing that doing so encourages the practice of luggage theft, since it's a social problem I’m largely powerless to solve but at least don't want to make worse at the micro level.