REDWOOD CITY -- An ex-United Airlines baggage handler arrested after dozens of traveler complaints was convicted Thursday of stealing passenger luggage at San Francisco International Airport, a prosecutor said.

George Reyes, 45, pleaded no contest to one felony count of embezzlement and was sentenced to six months in jail. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall ordered him to begin serving his sentence immediately, said chief deputy district attorney Karen Guidotti.

Reyes was arrested May 21 as he drove with purses and iPads in his car that police said had been stolen out of travelers' luggage. Authorities suspected him of stealing so they equipped some items with GPS trackers and put them in bags they knew would pass through Reyes' hands, Guidotti said.

United Airlines started its investigation after receiving some 50 complaints from passengers between February and March who said items went missing from their luggage. The airline believed a worker was stealing and figured out who was working when the thefts occurred. The investigation led to Reyes, Guidotti said.

This case came less than two months before another United Airlines employee and his fiancee allegedly stole luggage stuck at SFO following the Asiana Flight 214 crash. Sean Crudup, 44, and Raychas Thomas, 32, both of Richmond, face theft charges. Crudup was in San Mateo County Superior Court on Thursday and set a date to schedule a preliminary hearing on the evidence against him.

Crudup and Thomas are both out on bail, Guidotti said. They're due in court August 26.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.