CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Gavino family turned their vacation in the North Carolina mountains into a detective mission to find their stolen luggage, leading to the discovery of several stolen suitcases in Gastonia.
“I wanted justice,” Catherine Gavino told Queen City News in an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon.
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Gavino and his family are originally from the Miami area, but were aiming to spend Christmas in the Carolinas.
The family landed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Friday afternoon. But their vacation was delayed after they failed to locate any of their luggage during baggage claim.
Ironically, Gavino took out his phone to check the location of his newly purchased AirTag.
She explained that she bought it Thursday evening.
“And I watched a YouTube video Friday morning and I threw it in my luggage,” Gavino said.
It’s an idea she says she received from a number of online influencers.
“It was to help find luggage if it was lost, but I never thought it could be stolen,” she said.
That’s what happened, according to a police report from the Gastonia Police Department.
When Gavino pulled out his phone, the AirTag hidden in his mother and father’s luggage showed he was on Interstate 85 and en route to Gastonia.
The Gavino family quickly rented their vehicles and began tracking the AirTag to a neighborhood in Gastonia, but could not find the exact location.
The AirTag, according to Gavino, stopped displaying its location after a central point, so Friday afternoon’s search was called off.
“Throughout the trip, it continued to appear around Gastonia and South Carolina,” she explained.
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The suitcase was not full of sentimental items, but of clothes that her mother and father had bought especially for their vacation trip. Everything had to be replaced during the trip.
On Christmas Day, the family detective decides to make one last attempt.
Gavino dropped off two family members at the airport on December 25 and decided to check Gavino’s location again.
He showed up at a house on McGuire Street in Gastonia.
“I said to my dad who was with me, ‘Look, it’s only 20 minutes, let’s move on,’” she said.
Gavino not only found the house, but saw that Gavino was still there.
She contacted Gastonia police who arrived and informed the homeowners of the situation.
Inside, they found not only the Gavino family’s suitcase, but also that of another victim whose luggage had been stolen at the airport.
Catherine told Queen City News that Gastonia police informed her that “someone else called with the same issue.” And they had an airline label. (The police) came here earlier, but they were ringing the house behind.
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Unfortunately for his family, there wasn’t much left in the suitcase.
“The police think maybe they sold the clothes for money, who knows,” Catherine said. “They’re my parents, who come to the mountains to see North Carolina, so that made me sad, which was all the more reason to go after them…I wouldn’t have found them if it weren’t for this Gavino guy.”
The suspect in this case was arrested and charged with several thefts, including drugs.
They are being held on $10,000 bail.
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