FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Broward Sheriff's Office is trying to identify a man caught on surveillance video stealing an expensive watch from an airport security checkpoint.
It happened in Terminal 3 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 18.
The watch belongs to a woman wearing a black and white shirt passing through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint. It's a stainless steel and gold Rolex valued at $6,500.
The man was right behind her, tying his shoes. When he stood up to collect his belongings, he spotted the watch, looked around, grabbed it, picked up his stuff and walked away.
"This is no mistake; it was deliberate," said BSO Lt. Brian Montgomery.
Rather than alerting TSA, the video shows the man walk over to a bench, set his stuff down right next to the woman in the black and white shirt, and then put her watch in his backpack.
"He again looks around to make sure no one is looking, and then he proceeds to walk by two uniformed deputy sheriffs, and when he sees them, he looks down to the ground. But then when he looks up, he looks directly into the surveillance cameras," said Montgomery.
BSO is trying to identify the pilfering passenger to charge him with grand theft, but is this really stealing? Or is it a case of finders, keepers?
Local 10 showed the video to Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Andrew Coffey, who said it would have been different if the man found the watch on the sidewalk, but in this case, he said, the circumstance makes it a crime.
"This is a situation where they both had to go through, they both had to pass through security. There's no doubt that he knew she was right in front of him, and he just took it, like any common criminal would," Coffey said.
BSO deputies searched the terminal but did not locate the suspect. They think he boarded a plane to Charlotte, and they are now in the process of checking the passenger list of that plane.
Local 10's Roger Lohse spoke to Gloria de Regalado, who owns the watch.
"There are good people and there are bad people, and unfortunately, the person behind me in line that day was bad," de Regalado said.
De Regalado, who lives in El Salvador and has a home on Key Biscayne, warned other passengers to always put their belongings in a bag before going through a TSA security checkpoint to avoid accidentally leaving something behind.
A reward up to $1,000 may be available for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information about the suspect should call Broward Crimestoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).