From luggage to tickets and passports, there is plenty to think about when heading to the airport -- but travelers may want to keep car-jacking in mind now that there have been two incidents at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in the past week.
Two cars were taken from Terminal One in the past seven days, and the crooks clearly weren't worried about airport security even though police are constantly patrolling the terminal to look for anything suspicious.
Anyone who has been to the airport knows the pressure to keep things moving is always on. Most drivers are stopped for less than a minute, but it doesn't take much time to steal an unoccupied car that is already running.
It happens thousands of times a day across the country. Someone is either picked up or dropped off at the airport, and the driver opens the trunk, grabs the luggage and gives loved one a hug while the car is running -- often with the door wide open.
That's exactly what happened on Friday when a brazen car thief jumped into the driver's seat and took off, leaving the owner stunned.
In that case, police used the victim's cell phone to track the car to ST. Paul, where they arrested 25-year-old Samuel Wallin, of White Bear Lake. Wallin has a rap sheet that includes drunk driving and drug charges as well as convictions for burglaries.
Police say it only takes a matter of seconds for someone to steal a car in that situation. On Wednesday, a second car was stolen near the baggage claim area. It was never recovered and investigators are still looking to see if the two cases are connected.
"It's a very rare occurrence," said Melissa Sovronski, a spokeswoman for the airport. "We're not concerned that this is constituting any kind of trend."
Scovronski said she couldn't remember the last time an unattended car was stolen from the terminal curb and she doesn't think there's a reason to change the way pick-up and drop-off works -- but she did say it's not a bad idea to turn off your car.
"Most people know we don't want you to linger," she said. "You can't leave your car her, you can't go in and so forth -- but honestly, I don't think people need to worry about coming out here and opening their doors and doing what they normally do."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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