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Sunday, January 25, 2015

8 Simple Tips for Preventing Theft on Your Next Flight

VNA discloses recent rise of in-flight theft. VNAFlyer has tips for making it more difficult for would-be looters on any flight to steal your valuables.

With 32 reported cases of theft while in-flight (and likely more that go unreported), Vietnam Airlines (VNA) has started warning passengers to be more wary during their flights.

A passenger on a January 19, 2014 VNA
flight caught in the act of stealing from
others. Image source: Trung Hieu/
Thanh Nien News
Onboard theft has always existed, but VNA has seen an unusually high number of incidents recently. Apparently, thieves from China and Hong Kong are methodically targeting passengers, especially those traveling in business class, and selecting their targets as soon as at the check-in counters to steal from when onboard.

The linked article above doesn't provide details on what one should actually do, so VNAFlyer is here to fill in the gaps. While it may be impossible to stop a very determined thief, you can make sure to make it more difficult for them.

Applicable for any flights in general (not just VNA), here are my 8 simple tips for making it that much harder for these criminals to rummage through your belongings:
  • Don't put large amounts of cash or other valuables in your bag, then be separated from it. This seems like an obvious one to me, but a recent incident onboard VNA involved a Japanese passenger who almost lost the equivalent of US$49,500 to thieves. Keep this money on your person, or at least don't get separated from your bag by putting it overhead.
  • Don't use a travel lock. These just draw more uninvited attention to the fact that you may have something valuable, and a thief with a ballpoint pen wouldn't be deterred anyway:
  • Board early, so you have plenty of room to select where your bag goes. Hint: Someplace with a good line-of-sight.
    • Place your bags ahead of you, so you can have an eye on anything that happens near your bag.
    • Place your bags across the aisle from you, for the same reason as above. For inexplicable reason, humans have a need to put their bags right above their heads. Nothing, except for society peer pressure, requires you to do that, nor prevents you from putting your bag somewhere else. The overhead space is first-come, first-served, so just pick a spot.
  • When stowing your bag overhead, place your zippers inside and down to make it more difficult to access. On a standard carryon suitcase, this means positioning your zippers at the top (while it's standing), then putting your bag in top-handle first/wheels out, as well as front down/pull-handle up.
  • Sit in the aisle seat. If something should happen, you can more easily "inquire" about the suspicious activity, if you feel that it's safe to do so. It would be difficult to do the same thing from the window seat.
  • Don't be afraid to ring the call button if you think something suspicious is going on.
  • Don't sleep. Obviously not possible in some cases, but if you can stay awake, you can keep an eye on things.
  • Don't leave valuables out on the tray table, in your seat back pocket, or on your seat while you sleep or leave your seat. Why is it people all of the sudden trust perfect strangers when they board a plane? Most people wouldn't even think of leaving their cell phones, purses/wallets, passports, tablets, cameras, or laptop on a table at a restaurant, yet have no problem leaving these same things unattended while going to the lavatory. Consider the plane to be a public space.

Do you already do any of these things yourself? Do you have your own tips you'd like to share? Comment below!

1 comment:

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