Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Wed September 07 2016

United Airlines Employee Arrested for Stealing Jewelry Worth $130k

Impacting Travel | United Airlines | Donald Wood | September 01, 2016

United Airlines Employee Arrested for Stealing Jewelry Worth $130k

PHOTO: Rafael Magana, the United Airlines employee arrested for suspected theft at Denver International Airport. (photo courtesy Denver District Attorney)  

A United Airlines employee has been charged with felony theft after allegedly stealing $130,000 worth of jewelry from a passenger's bag at Denver International Airport in August.

According to, 42-year-old Rafael Magana of Commerce City, Colorado, was working for United Airlines on Aug. 8 when a passenger traveling from Aspen to Denver reported a cosmetics case containing jewelry had fallen from her bag at the Aspen airport.

Inside the case was a $35,000 pair of diamond earrings, a $35,000 pearl-encrusted bracelet and other valuable items.

Staff members at the Aspen airport found the case and put it on her flight. Following her landing in Denver, the case was sent along with other carry-on luggage to an area where passengers could pick up their belongings.

Police claim that’s when Magana picked up the cosmetics case, walked over to a nearby coffee shop and placed the case inside a brown paper bag. Surveillance videos then show him departing the area with the brown bag.

When the authorities contacted Magana several days later, he claimed he left the bag at the service desk, but he was eventually arrested. Once in police custody, he offered to return the jewelry on the condition that he could escort officers to his home as to not upset his landlord.

“We hold our employees to the highest standards and have zero tolerance for theft,” United Airlines said in a statement. “We are cooperating with the Denver Police Department in this matter and have removed the employee from his duties.”

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