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Beware of your fellow flyer!

india Updated: Apr 18, 2008 00:10 IST
Sidhartha Roy

The next time you are in a flight, keep a close watch on the passenger sitting next to you. He or she could be eyeing your valuables.

Incidents of theft at Indian airports are not uncommon, but in a new trend noticed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, flyers are stealing money and other valuables from baggage of their fellow passengers at conveyor belts or at the X-ray baggage screening area.

The top item on the theft list are mobile phones, the more flashy the better.

"Mobiles are stolen most frequently as they are handy and are most easy to hide," said a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) official. The security of the IGI Airport is with CISF.

Mobiles are picked up at the X-ray baggage screening area of hand luggage. Because mobiles have to be kept in a separate tray and collected after screening, unscrupulous passengers steal mobile phones at this time. "They would simply take someone else’s phone and leave. The expensive Blackberry phones have the highest demand," he said.

"Many are tempted by these expensive gadgets just lying there for them to pick. Whenever we manage to catch someone, they give the excuse that they picked the phone by mistake," he said. There are also much more serious incidents of thefts where passengers pick up or steal from baggage of others at conveyor belts, the official said.

In a recent incident, one such passenger was caught for stealing Rs 2 lakh from another passenger’s briefcase. Sunil Agarwal, who had arrived from Raipur on March 10, was waiting for his registered baggage when he saw another passenger next to his briefcase, which was open. As Agarwal caught him, the other passenger tried to escape, but Agarwal raised an alarm.

CISF personnel found out that the other passenger, Shankar Lal, who had arrived in a Mumbai flight, had taken Rs 2 lakh from Agarwal’s bag and had passed it on to another passenger. "On further investigation, it was found that Lal belongs to a Mumbai based gang of bag lifters active at Delhi-Mumbai-Chennai-Kolkata circuit. He was handed over to the Delhi Police," the official said.