Some years ago, I was travelling home via Malaga Airport, Spain. A security officer asked me to place my watch in the tray to be x-rayed. I said that my watch had never triggered the alarm but she insisted that it was standard policy at Malaga to remove the watch.
I placed my watch on top of the tray, and the security officer then engaged me in conversation, asking where I had been and what kind of work I do.
When I reached the other side of the x-ray machine, my watch had gone.
When I told the person scanning the tray contents he claimed that there had been no watch. I asked him to scroll back through his film to my tray. He scrolled back to someone else’s and said ‘there is no watch.’ I protested that this was not my tray on screen. He said it was, and if was unhappy I should speak to the airport police.
I went to the airport police office and a guy looking like Coolhand Luke emerged, cigarette in mouth, shades, and hand on pistol.
He went back to the security gate with me and said ‘This gentleman says his watch has been taken from his tray.’ The security guy said ‘There was no watch.’ The policeman said ‘There was no watch, now go and get your flight. The more I protested, the more firmly he gripped his gun. I don’t like to argue with a man with a gun.
When I arrived home, an Internet search revealed that this scam was (at that time) common at Malaga Airport.