This is a good reminder to always keep an eye on your belongings while traveling, as cabin theft is a surprisingly common problem…
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Man faces jail time for airplane cabin theft
This incident happened on Saturday, December 16, 2023, and involves Scoot flight TR305 from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Singapore (SIN). For those not familiar with Scoot, this is Singapore Airlines’ low cost subsidiary. Long story short, a 52-year-old Chinese national is accused of having gone on a cash theft rampage onboard, whereby he stole roughly $23,000 in cash from three fellow travelers (all amounts are USD, unless stated otherwise):
- He stole 510 million Vietnamese dong (~$20,950) and 50 Singapore dollars (~$38) from one traveler’s black messenger bag
- He stole $1,000 and 930 Singapore dollars (~$700) from an envelope in a gray bag belonging to one traveler
- He stole three million Vietnamese dong (~$123) from one traveler’s backpack
According to reports, one passenger noticed the suspicious behavior, and alerted the crew. Rather than escalating the situation inflight (where a lot could go wrong), the crew instead contacted airport police, and they met the plane upon arrival in Singapore. The suspect was then escorted off the aircraft by police, and other passengers were free to disembark.
The man is now facing some serious charges. If convicted of theft, the traveler could face up to three years in jail, a fine, or both.
Inflight theft is an extremely common occurrence
Many travelers have a fear of valuables being stolen from checked luggage, but this is a good reminder to keep a close eye on any valuables you bring as carry-ons as well. It’s always a best practice to keep valuables in a bag underneath your seat, so that you have your eye on them at all times, rather than stuffing them into a bag and keeping them in an overhead bin.
Many people assume that inflight theft doesn’t happen much, since you’re in such tight quarters, and you always have eyes on you. Quite to the contrary, I think that often works in the favor of thieves. People aren’t as observant because they assume they’re safe, people often won’t question if someone opens a bag, and people often store bags behind them.
Some people don’t realize that there are literally crime rings that focus specifically on inflight theft, where they’ll book tickets with the sole purpose of stealing from others. Sometimes they get away with it, and sometimes they don’t.
It’s not surprising to see that a flight from Vietnam was chosen, since Vietnam is known for having travelers carrying large amounts of cash. On many flights I’ve taken to or from Vietnam, there are currency sniffing dogs at the gate, to see if any travelers have excess currency they haven’t declared.
While I understand the logic of doing this on a flight from Vietnam, it seems poorly thought out to do this on a flight to Singapore, given the country’s very strict laws, and the risk vs. reward analysis. I imagine an inflight theft wouldn’t potentially carry such big charges in other countries.
A man is accused of stealing from three fellow passengers on a Scoot flight last week, while enroute from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore. A majority of this theft came from one traveler, who was carrying around $21,000 in cash.
Fortunately a traveler spotted what was going on, alerted the crew, and then the police met the flight on arrival. Never let your guard down with your belongings on a flight, because this happens more often than you might think, and there are people out there flying exclusively for the purpose of stealing from fellow passengers. I guess that’s a different approach to a mileage run, eh?