Vietnam's flag carrier has asked passengers to take extra caution as some foreign criminals might prey on them to steal valuable belongings from either their pockets or carry-on luggage.
“In-flight theft is on the rise,” Pham Chi Cuong, head of Safety, Quality and Security Section at Vietnam Airlines, said at a recent meeting on aviation safety.
“This is an emerging crime that really affects aviation companies,” he said.
Cuong said there had been a group of criminals from Hong Kong targeting air passengers.
“These people often follow passengers, especially those in business class, from the moment they check in at the airports to learn their seat numbers.”
“On the flight, they will try to steal from overhead lockers or from the passengers' pockets.”
According to Cuong, a Japanese passenger had recently had US$49,500 stolen on a flight.
Chinese national Zhang Giang caught stealing from another passenger on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City on January 19, 2014. Photo: Trung Hieu.
“On that same flight, we arrested several people for theft and sent them to Hong Kong police after landing,” he said.
Vietnam Airlines reported a higher number of in-flight thefts, with 12 cases in 2013 and 20 in 2014.
At the meeting, Dang Quoc Bao of Airport Corporation of Vietnam said security forces have also reported more cases of passengers carrying weapons, making bomb threats and smoking during flights.