Several handguns have been stolen from bags checked by police officers, military personnel and others on United Airlines flights departing Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, sparking concern that the weapons are loose in what is supposed to be a secure area, reports the Chicago Tribune. Bags containing guns also have disappeared. Aviation security experts said stealing from checked luggage long has been a problem at many airports and that guns are a favored target because they are easy to smuggle out and easy to sell.
Still another concern is that putting something into a bag could be just as easy as taking an item out, experts said. “It’s a problem at every airline and every airport,” said aviation security consultant Douglas Laird. For police officers, word of the thefts is being circulated on the Chicago police union’s Web site, which warns of an officer whose weapon was stolen–one of “several cases” in “an ongoing problem”–that investigators confirmed for the union. “United Airlines is having a serious problem with theft at O’Hare Airport,” a notice on the Fraternal Order of Police site says. “This is something to think about next time you arrange vacation or business plans. Perhaps United Airlines is not the correct choice for flights for law enforcement or military personnel.”