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Larceny at 30,000 Feet

Three Chinese Men Caught Pilfering Hand Bags on a Garuda Flights between Bangkok and Jakarta

(1/19/2014) Tribunenews.com reports the detection of three Chinese “tourists” caught stealing thousands of dollars from the hand luggage of a passenger flying from Bangkok to Jakarta on Garuda Indonesia.

On December 18, 2013, Kristiantoko, an Indonesian passenger on board Garuda Indonesian (GA 866) from Jakarta to Bangkok lost tens of millions of Rupiah from his hand luggage, only discovered when he landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Prior to the flight he had placed his wristwatch, wallet and an envelope containing money in his hand-luggage prior to boarding the flight. Reconstructing the incident, Kristiantoko suspects his bag was opened and valuables removed while he was using the airplane’s restroom. The bag, minus the money and other valuables, was returned to its place in the overhead compartment when the man returned to his seat, unaware that the theft had taken place.

When he arrived in Bangkok a colleague traveling on the same flight said he saw a man remove a bag resembling Kristianto’s while he was in the toilet, but was not aware it was his friend’s bag at the time.

Kris lost a wristwatch worth Rp. 4 million, US$1,644, Baht 13,000 – bringing his total losses to around US$2,000.

Reporting his loss to Garuda Indonesia ground staff in Bangkok, he was taken to the Thai police where he filed a report detailing the incident.

The Plot Thickens

Kristianto shared his sad story with a number of friends and colleagues, including Rio, who was in Bangkok and flew back to Jakarta a few days before Christmas.

Rio, remembering what hat happened to his friend, remained observant while flying back to Jakarta. During that flight back home, Rio observed three men get out of their seats and remove bags from the overhead compartments. One of the bags was located in the compartment directly over Rio’s head and belonged to a sleeping man seated next to him.

Rio later woke the man to tell him that someone had tampered with his hand luggage. Checking his bag, the man discovered that US$5,000 was missing.

Gotcha!

The two men informed the Garuda cabin crew of what had just happened who allowed the thieves to disembark the airplane in Jakarta before having them detained by security staff at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport.

Rio, serving as a witness in the theft, attended the inspection of the three men where officials discovered the missing money in the possession the three men who carried Chinese passports.

Because the victim of the crime only wanted to recover his money, he chose not to prosecute the case forcing officials to release the thieves without charge. The inspection of the men’s passports, however, showed the men had traveled eight times in the past month between Bangkok and Bali.

The airline recorded the men’s identity to be placed on a blacklist for any future flights with Garuda Indonesia.

The men, relieved at not being placed under arrest, quickly departed Indonesia on the next international flight.

A Garuda Indonesia spokesman, Merlin, confirmed that similar incidents had been reported in the past. He urged the public to always be aware of their personal belongings when on board any flight.