You cannot sue them for theft unless you have proof that one of their employees was the culprit.
You might have coverage on your homeowner's insurance policy if, and ONLY IF you purchased a special coverage needed in downstate New York called "Off-Premise Theft coverage". Keep in mind that even if you have this coverage, you still will have to pay your deductible of $250, $500, $1,000, etc...
This is nothing new at airports all around the world. Last year on our way to the Florida Keys, we watched someone take our fishing rod porta tube and load it into their taxi at Miami airport. Luckily, we stopped them in time but the cops could not arrest the thieves because they claimed it was an honest mistake (bull crap). My buddy had a very similar thing happen in Atlanta. Keep your eyes open and always stand at the spot where the luggage first comes through the wall at the baggage claim area so that nobody else has a shot at doing this to you.
As Doctorfish related, his friend's rod tube was "accidentally" put into someone's cab (honest mistake?) Upon returning from the Bahamas at JFK, while waiting for our rod tubes to come out on the baggage conveyor belt, well after all our luggage had come out, I looked around and saw our two rod tubes in their dark green cases with flourescent orange yarn wound around the handle, suspiciously being put behind someone's luggage cart alongside the wall! The person then stood in front of his luggage cart looking as if nothing happened. There was no reaction on his part when I walked over and took hold of my two rod tubes and just walked away! How he got ahold of the two rod tubes, I don't know but they never came out on the conveyor belt. I was standing there from the minute the belt started. I never even bothered to report it. I just left the airport.
They often put the rod tubes through the oversized luggage clain instead of the conveyer so it is important to find out where this is so you can watch it. They put mine on the conveyer once and it got bent 90 degrees, I thought I would end up at war with the airlines, but when we got the tube straight, all the rods were ok and the trip was saved.
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