Aircraft cleaner charged with theft after 171 lost items found at his home

By Calvin Palmer

American Airlines today fired an employee who is accused of stealing items left on passenger aircraft at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Henry Ibarra, 59, of Fort Worth, who cleaned planes and had worked for the airline for 41 years, was arrested on a theft charge on July 15 after airport police traced a cell phone that a passenger had accidentally left on a plane to his home.

A woman reported that she had left her cell phone on an American Airlines plane on July 11.

Detectives determined that Ibarra was working on July 11 when that flight arrived from Reno, Nevada.

When officers arrived with a search warrant Ibarra told them he had forgotten to return it after picking it up and putting it in his pocket.

The phone was found in Ibarra’s son’s bedroom with its information erased and Ibarra’s son’s named entered into it, but the serial number matched that of the one reported lost.

Some 171 other items were also seized from Ibarra’s Fort Worth home. The items included iPods, expensive sunglasses, Kindle e-readers, headphones, cameras, DVD players and Nintendo game systems.

Officers with a second search warrant also found three pallets full of American Airlines property in Ibarra’s garage.

Half of the 171 recovered items have been valued at $7,500, airport spokesman David Magana said today and officials are working to find the owners.

American worked closely with police on the matter, spokesman Tim Smith said.

“While the majority of our 24,000 North Texas employees are honest and hardworking, we have no tolerance for any dishonest behavior and will take appropriate action as necessary,” Smith said.

Ibarra, who is out on bail, was unavailable for comment.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.]

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