LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Thieves have stolen dozens of cars parked at Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport as records the 8 News Now Investigators obtained show the garages’ surveillance and security systems do not always work.
The airport is one of the nation’s busiest with tens of millions of passengers traveling through it each year. That includes millions of travelers who live and work in the Las Vegas valley and who park at the airport before getting on a flight.
Chris Arencibia’s family received quite the surprise when they flew into the airport this summer.
“He goes, ‘Dad, you’re going to have to pick me up. There’s no car here,” Arencibia said about receiving a phone call from his son. “I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”
Arencibia’s wife had parked the car on the fourth floor of the Terminal 1 parking garage around 4 a.m. that morning. She was headed out on a flight and took the SUV’s key fob with her.
Hours later, when Arencibia’s son flew in and went to grab the car – he had his own fob – the car was gone.
“To come to the airport and leave for a couple of days and come back and your vehicle is missing, it’s terrible. It’s a terrible feeling,” Arencibia car.
The 8 News Now Investigators found Arencibia’s car is one of about four dozen vehicles stolen from airport property that victims have reported to Las Vegas Metro police over the past two years.
“My concern is not the vehicle — it’s just at 4 o’clock in the morning, women, men, young, older people, could go up there and something could happen to them and there’s no camera to see what’s going on,” he said, adding the parking office told him there was no video surveillance of his car.
“We don’t want to have any holes in our security or any holes in our surveillance that we have at the airport here,” LVMPD Capt. Gregory Munson, who oversees the force at the airport, said.
“Are there holes?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Munson.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Munson said.
“Do you think people are surprised that cars are getting stolen from the airport?” Charns asked.
“I would say you would think that because obviously, you are in a location that’s secure. There’s one right above us actually,” Munson said, “There are cameras everywhere that are monitoring things, but not always do we catch everything on camera.”
While there are cameras and license plate readers throughout the garages, the 8 News Now Investigators found they do not always work or do not always capture every vehicle. The 8 News Now Investigators paged through dozens of stolen vehicle reports, finding surveillance and other security measures in place are not catching nor preventing all thefts.
“Department of Aviation did not have any surveillance cameras at the location of occurrence,” one stolen-vehicle report said. Another wrote, “[airport staff] did not have any video surveillance of his vehicle entering the parking garage or leaving.”
The garages require payment and there are secured gates to enter and exit. Sometimes drivers will remove a car’s license plate and plow through the exit gate, Munson said.
With more than 2 million cars parked at the airport in the last year, and more expected as the economy improves, Munson said the chance of becoming a victim at the airport is slim.
“The chances of a car getting out of this airport without it being caught on camera, I would say, is one in a billion chances, but could a camera go down, could a camera malfunction, it happens right, and those things need to be addressed,” he said.
Munson suggests taking your keys and your parking ticket with you. He also added the familiar adage, “See something, say something.”
“We do get a lot of those calls, but we want more,” he said.
“The car can be replaced, it has been replaced,” Arencibia said. “A human cannot be replaced.”
Arencibia bought a new car – but he will not be parking it at the airport. Instead, he plans to take another mode of transportation to and from the airport from now on.
To this day, he said the airport parking office has no record of his car entering the garage – or more importantly, leaving.
“Somehow it goes there and somehow it left,” he said.
In addition to cameras and license plate readers, police and security officers regularly walk or bike through the garages.