Tenerife: Workers at Spanish airport popular with UK holidaymakers arrested over £1.7m luggage thefts

Fourteen workers at an airport commonly used by UK holidaymakers have been arrested on suspicion of stealing items from luggage, Spanish police said.

Officers seized allegedly stolen items worth almost two million euros (£1.7 million) from the group of employees at Tenerife South airport on Spain's Canary Islands.

A further 20 members of staff are being investigated. The UK is Tenerife's largest market for inbound tourism.

Some 2.3 million visits to the island were made by UK citizens last year, compared with 800,000 from mainland Spain, according to the Canary Islands authorities.

Tenerife South airport is served by airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways.

National police force Guardia Civil launched an investigation after a spike in passenger complaints about items missing from their luggage.

It said the thefts happened after baggage was placed in the hold of planes.

Airport workers forced open suitcases, took out valuables and shut them, leaving no sign of tampering.

Screens designed to stop luggage moving during flights were positioned to hide their actions.

Workers removed stolen items from the airport using hidden compartments inside clothing and equipment, police said.

In one example, a ring was concealed inside ear defenders.

Authorities seized 29 luxury watches, 120 items of jewellery, 22 high-end mobile phones and 13,000 euros (£11,000) in cash.

Police believe the suspects sold many other items online and in local shops.

The number of Brit tourists heading to Tenerife has increased since the pre-pandemic, with the island welcoming 8% more visitors from the UK from January to August this year compared with 2019.