Chicago police said several handguns have been stolen after being checked by passengers on United Airlines flights departing O'Hare International Airport.
Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond said there have been "a handful" of guns and bags containing guns reported stolen from luggage placed into the care of United Airlines employees, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago-based airline said United has been "working with the authorities on this matter."
Airline security experts said the theft of items from checked luggage has been a problem at airports across the country for years. They said firearms are a common item stolen because they are easy to conceal and easy to sell.
"It's a problem at every airline and every airport," said aviation security consultant Douglas Laird. He said the baggage check system is full of vulnerabilities and thefts can occur despite laws requiring guns to be carried in locked cases.
"Nobody has ever really resolved a real way around it," Laird said. "There's a real dilemma with baggage theft in the airline industry."
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Since the beginning of the year, there have been "a handful" of firearm thefts from luggage being handled by United personnel.
No charges have been brought against the employees, who were suspected of stealing up to 10 guns.
The suspect is not linked to thefts of guns from airport luggage.
As many as a dozen guns disappeared from bags checked at the United terminal this year and in 2005.