In-flight baggage theft: This could happen to you

2015-08-07 13:05 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Have you ever had to stow your baggage in a cabin a few seats away from you or seen it moved without your permission during a flight in order to make space?

A couple has taken to social media to share how they were almost the victims of an in-flight robbery and their story will certainly make you think twice about doing so next time.

Virendra Shah from India detailed the incident in a Facebook post dated 24 July saying, “I thought I noticed my bag being replaced in the overhead locker. I wasn't sure and decided it was probably a fellow passenger, moving it to access their own bag.”

The post has since gone viral with more than 116k shares.

While Shah does not name the airline or give specific flight details, he said upon landing in Hong Kong he checked his bag thoroughly to set his suspicion at ease.  

“I examined the contents, only to find all of my wife's jewellery, along with some cash had been stolen during the flight.”

READ: Social media travel scam alert - 5 tips on how not to get snagged

Shah raised the alarm, attempting to block both aisles to stop any of the 120 passengers from disembarking the plane.

He said he and his wife called for assistance from the flight attendants, as well as prompted fellow passengers to check their own bags but were initially met with agitation.

But eventually three other passengers also found things missing, according to Shah’s post.

“It turned out to be a passenger standing in front of me, who once identified proceeded to offload money, jewellery, camera equipment and false documents running into tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen goods.”

READ: 40 Travel scams to avoid

The suspect was apprehended and arrested by police.

But Shah states in following-up on the incident he’s been told this sort of theft is rife, with only an estimated 5% being caught.

Cabin baggage theft modus operandi to be aware of:

- Suspects more than likely sit on the back row of the plane watching for the ideal opportunity.

- They are said to systematically pull the bags from the overhead lockers, while passengers rest or watch movies

- Bags are then pilfered at the back of the plane for valuable contents.

- International airlines are allegedly targeted, with “lenient penalties” making it worth the risk  

SEE: PICS: Shameless people on planes

Safety Tips:

- Always lock your hand luggage.

- Do not assume luggage under your seat is safe, keep this in mind when leaving your seat or heading to the toilet.  

- Don't assume you're safe in business class either.

- If in doubt, wear or keep any valuables on you.

Have you ever had any in-flight issues? Mail us your suggestions to You can also join us on our FacebookTwitter or Instagram accounts.

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