Beware of thieves on planes

A story from a passenger flying to Hong Kong has drawn attention to a recent spate of onboard baggage burglary, particularly on flights to Asia.

The traveller, whose tale was published on Johnny Jet, explained how he saw someone moving her bag in the overhead locker and assumed, at the time, that it was a passenger moving his bag to gain access to their own.

As the plane landed in Hong Kong, a niggling feeling prompted him to check his bag. When he did, he found, or rather, did not find, his wife’s jewellery and cash. It had been stolen.

He immediately alerted flight staff, but they seemed disinterested in his pleas. He then told other passengers to check their own bags, and three had also been robbed. Flight attendants then decided that the situation was worth investigation.

The passenger described the man he saw moving his bag and asked everyone to check for someone matching that description. At this point, the thief tried to offload jewellery, camera equipment, false documents and “tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen goods. Finally, the captain was informed and eventually policemen intervened.

Evidently, this thievery is not uncommon, especially on flights into Hong Kong. Supposedly, all the thieves come from the same town in China. They sit in back rows and watch for passengers who put their bags in lockers a little away from their seat. Then , when passengers are sleeping or engrossed in inflight entertainment, the thieves rifle through overhead stowage and steal whatever they can before putting the bags back in place, with the victims often none the wiser until they get to their destinations. Yet only around five per cent are being caught.

To safeguard your precious cargo, you should always lock your bags. It’s also probably best to store your more valuable items under your seat, although there have been instances of thieves stealing from under-seat bags while passengers sleep!

The bottom line is, be wary and keep a watchful eye on suspicious passengers. If you have cash or jewellery, stash it in your pocket, or find a way that you’ll be alerted if your bag is ever being burgled.

Were you aware that thieves operated onboard airplanes? How do you suggest keeping your baggage safe and secure?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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