Eyewitness News has learned that 25 search warrants were served at 25 different locations Wednesday night. Arrests were made at the airport itself, as well as at various areas in Los Angeles County, including in Lennox and Inglewood.
Authorities say the people arrested are contract service workers from multiple companies, not employees of LAX. According to LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon, the suspects went through employment and criminal background checks.
"It's a disappointment, but a fact of life, that sometimes a few people will succumb to the temptations at LAX," Gannon said in a statement. "The actions of these few do not represent the nearly 45,000 individuals who work for the nearly 350 employers here at LAX."
Police set up a mobile command center near LAX to process those arrested. The raids continued until at least 2 a.m. Thursday.
Investigators say they noticed a string of thefts involving stolen property from travelers' checked luggage, so they launched an investigation. The months-long law enforcement operation is a joint venture between LAX police and the Los Angeles Police Department. Investigators say items were stolen out of luggage after they were checked and as they were being taken to the airplane.
"We believe that there has been a culture maybe of being able to take property that wasn't theirs, and that's what we want to put a stop to," said Capt. Ray Maltez with the Los Angeles Police Department. "LAX police and LAPD are committed to having a safe environment for the traveling public."
Officers seized items like jewelry, electronics, clothing and other belongings believed to be stolen property during the raids. Officials are trying to identify those items and return them to their owners.