Pair jailed for stealing £25,000 worth of holidaymakers' belongings

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Police have released CCTV footage of two thieves using a walking stick to steal a holidaymaker's handbag, after the pair were jailed for £25,000 worth of airport thefts.

Using the stick as a hook, Flores Valenzuela, 50, was shielded by Gissella Caceres Diaz, 27, as he swiped the victim's handbag and its contents, worth £9,500.

The victim, who was targeted as she sat at an arrivals' lounge coffee shop, was one of six targeted by the pair between March and October this year.

Airport theft case
Flores Valenzuela was jailed (Metropolitan Police/PA)

They stole luggage containing goods, including jewellery, cash and mobile phones, worth a total of around £25,000, the Metropolitan Police said.

Police believe the pair, who are both from Chile, flew to the UK deliberately to target holidaymakers, and are warning travellers to be on their guard.

Pc Tom Blair, of the Met's Aviation Policing Crime Squad, said: "Caceres Diaz and Flores Valenzuela took advantage of their victims' sometimes momentary distraction in order to steal their luggage.

"It's very easy to be distracted at a busy airport but you can help keep your luggage safe whether you're in the UK or abroad by always keeping it on you or within your line of sight.

"If you are carrying a large quantity of cash, keep it on you. If you must pack it in luggage, then spread it out between multiple bags."

Airport theft case
Gissella Caceres Diaz (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Valenzuela and Diaz were arrested at Heathrow Airport on November 7 after an officer recognised them from CCTV footage.

Valenzuela was jailed for two years, while Diaz was handed a one-year prison sentence at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday after they both pleaded guilty to six counts of theft at an earlier hearing.