Skip to comments.Cruise worker sent crooks for cruisers' homes
Posted on 06/12/2010 10:51:42 PM PDT by MamaDearest
Imagine a little slice of paradise. Sitting on the deck of a cruise ship, margarita in hand, as you glide through the Caribbean. Not a care in the world for a week, until you get home, and find while you were in paradise, burglars were in your home -- sent there by someone working for the cruise line who knew exactly when you'd be gone. Now, your stuff is, too.
That's what police in Palm Beach County say happened to at least 24 passengers of Miami based Royal Caribbean Cruise line. It's what they say two people -- one of them a cruise line employee -- did with a scheme to rip off cruisers while they were on the high seas.
Police say 38-year-old Bethsaida Sandoval, a vacation planner for Royal Caribbean with access to customer information, was arrested Thursday and charged with a host of burglary counts.
An arrest affidavit filed by investigators said Sandoval was seen on surveillance entering Royal Caribbean offices at about 1 a.m. several times in the past month, using her employee ID to get access to a computer where she would log in.
Police say they were told by Royal Caribbean security that Sandoval had no reason to be in the building, or logged into a computer, at that time. A background check found what police called "a history of theft and forgery."
When confronted by police, the arrest warrant states Sandoval admitted printing out the personal information of passengers who had worked with other vacation planners, which she took home and gave to her husband, who would go to the homes and burglarize them.
In some cases, she said, she used the Royal Caribbean computer system to organize lists of potential targets by geographical area and ship departure date.
Because Lopez and Sandoval knew when their victims would be in the middle of the ocean, it was a simple thing to strike when convenient.
"He would look to see if anyone was home, whether there were bars on the windows and suitable targets to come back to," explained Detective Anthony Johnson of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office.
Maidel and Rayner Diaz are now putting the bars on their windows and installing security cameras. They hope one day they'll be able to regain their sense of security after their home was burglarized while they were away cruising. "I mean they steal your peace of mind," said Maidel Diaz. "In my case, I have a baby and a nine year-old. They took away basically her innocence because she has trouble sleeping at night she has to sleep with us."
The Diaz family took a cruise with their relatives Victor and Yoandra Lopez. The Lopez family also found their home broken into and originally believed it was an insider with ties to the family. Now their surprised to find out the insider worked for Royal Caribbean.
"Thats why I'm shocked," said Yoandra Lopez, who used to work for Royal Caribbean. "Because they have very good you know procedure. I mean that person had to have some kind of clearance."
Sandoval said the burglaries had been taking place starting in November 2009. Sandoval told police she served as the driver for many of the the burglaries, and was there as her husband loaded their vehicle with stolen TV's, jewelry, and guns, which in many cases were taken back to Miami to be fenced.
According to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, Sandoval and her husband victimized 24 Royal Caribbean passengers in Palm Beach county. Sandoval and Lopez lived in Miami, and police say at least four people were burglarized in Miami-Dade and four in Broward county.
They believe all victims sailed from cruise ships leaving the Port of Miami or Port Everglades. Most were on the ships Majesty of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.
John Lumsden of Boca Raton was one of those targets. CBS4 News spoke with him as he and his wife were about to set sail on a Royal Caribbean ship out of Miami Friday. "I was unbelievably shocked. I think when I trust information to them, they should take better care of it. There should be systems in place that protect individuals against this sort of thing."
Lumsden says he upgraded his security system, installed hurricane-proof windows and has made his home more burglar-proof.
Sandoval was booked into the Palm Beach jail Friday morning and ordered held on $70 thousand bond. Her boyfriend, Lopez, has been in the Broward County jail since June 1 on unrelated charges.
Royal Caribbean issued a statement Friday afternoon referring to Sandoval as a former employee, and said it had been working closely with police. They also say that they are re-examining their security policies.
"This is a situation involving a former employee who appears to have taken advantage of their position for personal gain," the company said in it's statement. "We regret this incident occurred and hope it does not overshadow the excellent work our more than 40,000 Royal Caribbean employees do every day."
I can’t remember where, but somewhere on FR I recently read the Cruise lines were controlled by Mexican gangs?
Cruise ships s*ck. Cattle cars at sea and petri dishes for bacteria with rapist employees.
One needn’t go this far.
Damm Amish at it again.
Hey Look! This couple is away on a cruise again...we can hit their house.../sarc
I get a kick out of people upset at their information being stolen and then again putting their information out in the public on a newspaper article about it....wonder if they have a dog..../sarc
Ping for later
Cruise ships are owned by many different companies, mostly corporations based overseas. They are the cleanest, most enjoyable way of vacationing. They are NOT the crap you claim, and I have lots of first-hand experience. I own a travel agency, and have taken more than 30 cruises. These are little cities, and are better kept and more secure than most anything on land.
I doubt any of you have ever been on a cruise ship, much less gone anywhere on one. It is a floating hotel. It allows you to wake up to a new opportunity and experience each day. The food is great. Disclaimer: I do not book Carnival. It is not good enough for my clients, mostly golfers doing Bermuda and the Caribbean. I prefer Celebrity, MSC, and NCL.
Do bad people work on cruise ships? Maybe, but NOT MANY. They are screened and re-screened, and the crew is run like the Navy. There are cameras everywhere, and lots of people to help you. It is not in their interest to allow bad things to happen. That is why it is so sensational in the news. It is rare. NATALIE HOLLOWAY WASN'T ON A CRUISE.
As for clean, I usually get up in the middle of the night to pee (hey, I'm an old man and I drink liquids). I can't think of one instance where I went outside the cabin at 1:30 am and saw someone cleaning, right down to the baseboards. The chrome gets polished and the wood glows. There are also little dispensers placed onto all lanes into public areas these days, in their efforts to contain the idiot's germs that are brought aboard. I have never gotten sick on a cruise, and have no clients that have reported a problem. Clients usually report problems first!
Cruising is the best way to get away... and you can find a cruise these days, from a port nearer you. No air... no long security lines... good margaritas!
- Onboard Celebrity Horizon final cruise... Baked Alaska!
I’m pleasantly surprised they solved these crimes.
Nonsense. They pay almost no taxes and cause more damage to reefs than the oil industry.
I agree with you. Cruises are generally good.
Bingo. I have a friend who did loads of them before the mega ships. The smaller ships back then were a lot of fun. The mega ships today are like floating malls with loads fo low lifes. Alaskan crriose are still pretty small ships. The monster ships are stupid. Usually like Disney World - filled with ovrweight people who eat like pigs and want mindless entertainment.
My idea of vacation is not cruising around in a petri dish with 3,000 people where there might be an outbreak of something.
Cruises of 14 days or longer seem to have a better group of people. Older and more classy. Not many big families — and I mean “big” in every way.
... As part of its austerity budget designed to rein in a government debt predicted to rise to $4 billion by next year, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced an increase in the air and sea departure tax of $5, from $15 to $20 per passenger.
The increase in the sea departure tax is expected to generate an additional $9.2 million for the government and will come into force in October.
During the ongoing budget debate some industries affected by tax hikes have been offered olive branches but so far tourism has seen no compromise in the $40 million the government expects to raise through the departure tax increase and an increase in the hotel room tax.
Carnival Corporation spokesperson Jennifer de la Cruz said: "The Bahamas is currently the most expensive destination for cruise passenger taxes in the region.
"Increasing the cost for cruise lines to visit this already expensive destination, particularly given the current economic climate and business challenges the travel industry is facing, does not make sense.
"It would be more logical for the government of The Bahamas to focus on ways to reduce the cost of visiting the country rather than increasing taxes."
You would be wrong. You own a travel agency and thus get a significant discount on your cruises (I have a relative who owned one until her untimely death). Some are much better than others (I agree with your statements about Carnival and Celebrity). Bermuda IS exceptional for golfers, but it is also a wonderful family destination with the bus and ferry ticket system, Crystal Cave and the gorgeous sandy beaches. I recommend the southern Caribbean cruises, but the east and west are also good for those beginning to cruise.