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Man charged with stealing $23,000 from fellow passengers on flight

Singapore authorities have charged a man with multiple counts of theft after he was caught stealing from fellow passengers on a Scoot flight from Vietnam to Singapore. 

The man, identified by the court as 52-year old Chinese national Zhang Xiuqiang, was on board Scoot flight TR305 from Ho Chi Minh Airport (SGN) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) on December 16, 2023, when the thefts reportedly occurred.

During the three-hour flight, Zhang had allegedly gone through personal belongings, stealing from three separate passengers. 

According to a Singaporean court, Zhang reportedly took VND 3 million dong ($123) from a passenger’s backpack, as well as VND 510 million ($20,950) and a SGD 50 dollar note ($38) from a black messenger bag.

He also allegedly took $1,000 and SGD 930 dollars ($700) from an envelope found in a gray bag belonging to a third passenger.

In a statement sent to AeroTime, Scoot said that prior to disembarking in Singapore, a passenger alerted the airline’s cabin crew to a suspected theft in the cabin and the crew informed the Airport Police Division. 

Zhang was then escorted off the aircraft by airport authorities for further investigation. The rest of the passengers disembarked as normal. 

Scoot also said it is currently assisting the authorities with their investigations and that it could not provide further details about the incident as it is a security matter.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew are our top priority, and our operating crew are trained to be vigilant and alert authorities of any suspicious behavior on board our flights,” the airline said. 

Cabin theft warning

Scoot also advised passengers to remain vigilant and safeguard personal belongings at all times.

According to a report published by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) earlier in December 2023, Hong Kong police had warned of a spike in thefts on board flights after dismantling a crime syndicate that primarily stole credit cards from passengers.  

In November 2023, a woman flying business class on Korean Air flight KE 704 from Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) to Manila International Airport (MNL) revealed that her credit card had been stolen during the flight. 

In a TikTok video, the woman, a local celebrity in the Philippines, said that when she woke during the flight she saw a “well-dressed man” rifling through the magazine rack / compartment of her business class seat. When the man left, a nearby passenger told the woman that he had also gone through her bag.

Shortly after landing, the woman said she received alerts that her credit card had been used in various Southeast Asian countries. 

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