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Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash: Couple stole passengers' luggage at San Francisco airport

By Amanda Watts and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Wed July 31, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some passengers' flights were diverted, but their bags weren't, after the crash of Flight 214
  • A prosecutor says a United employee and his fiance stole some of the piled-up bags
  • The fiancee exchanged some of the bags' contents for $5,000 at Nordstrom, DA adds
  • The 2 are charged on three felony counts apiece; they're both free on bail

(CNN) -- In the hubbub at San Francisco's airport following the crash of Asiana Flight 214, a United airlines employee and his fiancee allegedly stole luggage and exchanged some of its contents at a nearby Nordstrom for cash, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

The two suspects -- Sean Crudup, a United customer service representative, and Raychas Thomas, his fiancee -- were arrested as the latter was catching a flight to Hawaii, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office said in a news release.

Both are free on bail.

The incident happened in the aftermath of the July 6 crash-landing of Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport. Two people died right after the Boeing 777 shed parts, spun and burst into flames and another died six days later; about 180 others were hurt.

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In this handout photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 sits just off the runway at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, July 7. The Boeing 777 coming from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on landing on Saturday, July 6. Three passengers, all girls, died as a result of the first notable U.S. air crash in four years. In this handout photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 sits just off the runway at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, July 7. The Boeing 777 coming from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on landing on Saturday, July 6. Three passengers, all girls, died as a result of the first notable U.S. air crash in four years.
Plane crash-lands in San Francisco
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Asiana crash probe moves on from San Francisco airport

Thousands more were inconvenienced when departing and incoming air traffic at the airport was halted in the hours after the crash.

In some cases, incoming flights were diverted to other airports in California. Passengers' bags sometimes made it to San Francisco before they did, leading to a pileup of luggage.

That's where, according to the district attorney's office, the case against the suspects begins.

Surveillance video showed Crudup stealing bags and handing them to his fiancee and another unnamed woman, the prosecutor's office said.

Report: TSA employee misconduct up 26% in 3 years

Thomas exchanged valuable clothing that had been in the bags at a Nordstrom store in Pleasanton, California, for about $5,000, the district attorney's office said.

More of the victims' property was found during a search of the home that Crudup and Thomas shared, according to authorities.

Crudup and Thomas have been charged with one count each of grand theft and two counts each of commercial burglaries, District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said. Convictions on these charges -- all of them felonies -- carries a maximum sentence of 4 years and 4 months in prison.

Thomas posted bail "right away" and is set to appear in court August 26 for her arraignment, the district attorney notes. Her fiancee, Crudup, was in court last Friday, July 26, at which time he's pleaded not guilty. Wagstaffe didn't know the name of the court-appointed attorney assigned to Crudup, who posted $75,000 bail over the weekend.

In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, United said that it has "zero tolerance for any theft."

"We are assisting the San Francisco Police Department in this investigation," the airline said, "and this employee has been held out of service."

Read more: Asiana Airline passenger was alive until killed by rescue vehicle

CNN's Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.

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