NEW YORK (AP) -- A Queens man is facing three to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of thefts from passengers in the terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday that 46-year-old Frederick McDonald of Far Rockaway, N.Y., had pleaded guilty to grand larceny in connection to six thefts.
"Traveling through the airports is stressful enough these days without having to worry that if you turn your back for a moment a thief who is lurking about will steal your luggage," Brown said.
"This is exactly how the defendant operated -- snatching luggage filled with thousands of dollars in cash, electronics and other valuables as soon as the victimized passengers were distracted."
Brown said the thefts took place between September 2011 and February 2012 in various terminals at the airport. Victims lost money, computers and other electronic equipment.
In one incident, authorities said McDonald stole a briefcase with a computer and $4,000 in it while its owner was paying a taxi driver. In another incident, McDonald pretended to be an airline porter and offered to help a woman push her luggage cart. When the woman’s 5-year-old son fell and she turned to him, McDonald stole the cart, authorities said. The passenger lost an iPad, $6,000, a camera and passports.
Authorities went through hundreds of hours of surveillance footage after noticing the theft patterns. Brown said McDonald was seen on that footage committing the offenses or going through the stolen items.
McDonald is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 15. A call to his attorney was not returned.