A pair of cleaners were caught red-handed pilfering from passengers' luggage at an airport, police said today.
Covert cameras caught Anthony Currant and Abul Hussain, both cleaners at Luton Airport, opening bags and stealing from them as they travelled along a luggage belt before getting to the main carousel.
Bedfordshire Police said Currant, 65, of Bolingbroke Road, Luton, and Hussain, 30, of Claremont Road in the town, were both handed custodial sentences after each admitting six counts of theft by an employee.
Currant was sentenced to six months in jail last Friday at Luton Crown Court, and Hussain was given three months at an earlier hearing, police said.
A spokesman said covert footage showed the men rifling through passengers' bags as they passed through an enclosed room on the luggage belt.
The pair were caught in a police sting in February, after the hidden cameras were put in the room where the belt carousel passes through with bags from inbound flights.
Footage showed the two cleaners opening bags as they travelled along the belt and stealing from them before the luggage was collected by passengers in the main baggage reclaim concourse.
Since their arrests, recorded baggage pilferages - claims of thefts or lost property from passengers' luggage - have dropped on average by 77%, police said.
Sergeant Steve Farrer, of London Luton Airport Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "The custodial sentences issued to both these individuals sends out a very clear message that crime will not tolerated at the airport.
"Travellers can be reassured that we take the security of their luggage very seriously.
"With an average of around 700,000 passengers travelling through the airport each month and around seven pilferages now being recorded each month, this makes up a very small percentage of all baggage handled.
"To be on the safe side we recommend holidaymakers lock their cases, keep all valuable items in their hand luggage and report any missing items to their respective airlines in order for these to be investigated."
A spokeswoman for Luton Airport said: "London Luton Airport notes the court's decision and is pleased that the matter has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
"As it involved people working for an independent contractor, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment."