A PASSENGER on a Hong Kong-bound flight lost over US$250,000 (HK$2 million) in foreign currency and luxury watches in an alleged act of mid-air thievery. The cash and valuables were said to be pilfered from his carry-on luggage stored in an overhead compartment.
The whopping amount in losses easily puts this high-altitude theft among the costliest in recent years. Hong Kong had already been experiencing a rise in theft cases on flights to the city.
“Initial investigation showed US$200,000 and two luxury watches – a Rolex and a Patek Philippe – were stolen from his bag and the total value was about HK$2 million,” a source familiar with the investigation told the South China Morning Post.
The victim was identified as 39-year-old Turkish watch merchant Mustasa Saci who flew in economy class on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Hong Kong.
Due in Hong Kong for business, Saci only discovered the money and valuables were missing after disembarking from the plane in Hong Kong. He then requested assistance from airline personnel and they, in turn, notified the police shortly after 6 a.m. in the morning.
A separate source described to SCMP how thieves stole cash and valuables from passengers in the past.
“They scouted their prey before boarding and placed their own bags in the same overhead bins their targets used,” he said.
“They searched through travel bags and luggage in the lockers when the owners were asleep or in the toilet.”
In recent times, Hong Kong has seen a disturbing rise in in-flight theft on airplanes bound for the city, according to figures published in the SCMP. With HK$2 million lost in just one theft, it already exceeds the total amount stolen on Hong Kong-bound aircraft in 2012 (HK$1.86 million) and 2013 (HK$1.46 million).