“Airplane rats” are now in it for the long haul, extending their range from short flights from Hong Kong to routes between the city and the Middle East, Apple Daily reported Monday.
According to Hong Kong police, airplane rats — thieves who target other passengers during flights — started becoming a real problem in Hong Kong in 2011, when 21 cases of theft were reported on outbound flights. That number rose to 71 in 2012 before falling back to 37 last year, the report said.
But this year 11 cases of inflight theft were reported in April and May, bringing the total to 19 since the start of the year, according to Hong Kong police.
The rats had previously restricted themselves to short-haul flights such as services between Hong Kong and Southeast Asia but it now more thieves are also targeting long-haul flights, including those from the Middle East.
Police said six cases were reported in the first five months on flights between the city and the Middle East, compared with just one before this year. The thieves steal possessions while passengers rest during the eight or so hour flights.
Police said that most of the thieves on Middle East routes began their trips in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai and were mostly men from Henan province ranging in age from their their twenties to fifties. Police suggested passengers should should not put valuables in overhead compartments.
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