PORT ORANGE - A Port Orange man's sticky fingers snagged much more than he expected when he stole a suitcase off the luggage carousel at the Daytona Beach International Airport.
Michael Schmidt, 31, didn't know it when he snatched the suitcase, but it contained $70,000 worth of surgical equipment that was scheduled to be used in a spinal operation later in the week.
That wasn't his first luggage theft, either.
He grabbed a garment bag off of the same luggage carousel earlier in the month and it's believed he's stolen luggage in a Georgia airport, too.
Schmidt was arrested by Volusia County Sheriff's investigators Wednesday morning on two charges of grand theft.
He was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach with $40,000 bond.
A passenger on a Delta Airlines flight that landed in Daytona on Sunday reported that a bag had gone missing. Airline personnel confirmed that the bag had made it to the airport.
When the surveillance video of the carousel area was checked, it showed a man picking up the bag and walking away with it. The victim recognized the man as a passenger on the flight and a check of the passenger list revealed Schmidt's identity.
When Schmidt got to his Port Orange apartment and checked inside the bag, he didn't recognize any of the equipment.
He then decided to leave it in the apartment complex's parking lot. An apartment complex employee found the abandoned bag Monday afternoon with the luggage tag still attached. She called the bag's owner and learned from him that the bag had been stolen.
The Port Orange Police Department then responded to investigate and the bag was returned to the victim.
Volusia Sheriff's investigators went to Schmidt's apartment on Tuesday, but he wasn't there. They then contacted him by phone. Schmidt told them that he had accidentally picked up the bag, thinking it was his and that he had left the bag in the parking lot for a friend to pick up and return to the airport.
However, investigators learned from Delta personnel that Schmidt had not checked any luggage on the flight, which meant he had no reason to even go to the luggage carousel. On Wednesday morning, Sheriff's investigators contacted Schmidt at his apartment as he was about to leave for work.
During the conversation Schmidt admitted to stealing the bag, saying that he is supporting his son and sick mother. He also said that he had stolen a garment bag in the same manner from the Daytona airport on June 10 and yet another bag from a luggage carousel at an Atlanta airport.
Investigators also learned that he's related to a retired Delta Airlines employee, which allows him to travel free on some Delta flights.