WATCH: Surveillance video helps catch baggage thieves at Cleveland Hopkins Airport

A lone bag sits on a baggage carousel at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
A lone bag sits on a baggage carousel at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.(WOIO)
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 7:28 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Imagine getting off a flight and seeing a thief walk away with your luggage.

It’s a problem 19 Investigates found seems to be increasing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

19 Investigates looked into how often this happens and how surveillance video is helping police return those items.

We got a hold of security camera footage from the airport that showed a thief in action back in January.

The video showed a man lingering around a stopped baggage carousel for several minutes.

Two bags sat on the belt at the time.

He waited until someone grabbed one of the bags, and then he walked away with the other one.

The baggage theft was caught on three different cameras.

19 Investigates also obtained police body camera video of what happened next.

Officers tracked down the suspect, Michael Pissos, who was 38 at the time.

They arrested him while he sat waiting aboard an RTA train at the airport station with the stolen bag.

Pissos later pleaded guilty to theft.

The body cam video shows police turned the bag over to an airline worker minutes later.

She was relieved to get it back and told the officers its owner was visiting from London.

There was a happy ending in this case, but we wanted to know how often baggage thefts are happening at the airport.

It turns out, thieves are walking away with someone’s luggage at least once a month this year.

19 Investigates found about 30 suitcases have been stolen from Cleveland Hopkins from January 1, 2021 through July 2022, according to records we requested from Cleveland Police.

We also discovered baggage thefts are going up.

Thieves stole 13 suitcases in the first six months of this year, compared to 17 suitcases stolen in the entire 12 months last year.

But overall, the number of bags stolen is a small fraction of the thousands of bags that go home safely from the airport.

We reached out to Cleveland Hopkins to see what they’re doing about baggage thefts.

A spokesperson said they are continuing to look at ways to enhance security and “This team is committed to implementing improved methods and best practices to keep baggage theft as marginal as possible.”

Here is the full statement from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport:

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) works closely with our airline partners to ensure our passengers have a safe and exceptional travel experience. On rare occasions, passengers’ baggage can be lost or stolen, regardless of all the measures taken to prevent these occurrences. Given the increased passenger volume this year from last, statistics may reflect a slight increase, which can be attributed to the increased number of travelers visiting us daily. However, the number of baggage thefts in comparison to the volume of passengers/baggage is marginal.

As part of our collaborative approach, which includes our airlines, local and federal law enforcement agencies, employees and other miscellaneous partners, we are continuously looking at ways in which we can enhance our security measures to help us reduce baggage theft, as well as any other type of passenger theft that may occur at the airport. This team is committed to implementing improved methods and best practices to keep baggage theft as marginal as possible, and ultimately prevented to create a travel experience that exceeds our passengers’ expectations.