The moral to the story: never check baggage unless you have to. If you have to check bags, do not check any valuables.
The problem has been so serious at JFK that in 2013, El Al Airlines set up a hidden camera in a baggage hold. The camera showed baggage handlers stealing items on flights bound for Israel, including a $5,000 Seiko watch, iPhones, an iPad, cameras, gold rings and cash. Six of those arrested pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property or petty larceny and the seventh suspect’s case was sealed, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.