A Far Rockaway man pleaded guilty last week to stealing luggage with over $15,000 in cash and merchandise from passengers at Kennedy Airport during a five-month period between Sept. 22, 2011 and Feb. 27, 2012.
The defendant was identified as Frederick McDonald , 46, pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree grand larceny and two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny on July 17 for a series of robberies in which he stole luggage or pocketbooks from passengers in different terminals at JFK, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.
The first robbery occured on Sept. 22, 2011, when McDonald stole a briefcase containing a laptop computer and $4,000 in cash at Terminal 8. McDonald also admitted to five other robberies, on Jan. 22, Feb. 10, Feb 21, Feb. 25 and Feb. 27. In all but one instance he stole the passengers’ luggage while they were distracted or had their eye off the bags. In the Jan. 22 robbery, he stole a cart full of luggage from a passenger after pretending to be a porter at Terminal 5, the JetBlue terminal. Though the bags were later recovered, items such as an iPad, camera, passports and $6,000 in cash were missing. In another incident, he stole a bag from under the chair of the victim while the man at a restaurant in Terminal 8.
The defendant was captured after Port Authority police, noticing the pattern, reviewed hundreds of hours of video surveillance footage which allegedly showed McDonald committing the crimes.
“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,” said DA Brown. “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.”
McDonald is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 25 and is expected to receive a three to six-year prison term.