Sisodia investigates the phenomenon called airport crime
Ashok Singhvi, general manager - marketing
of a multinational, was returning to Mumbai after a business
trip to Europe. After stepping out of the airport, he noticed
that his driver was not there to receive him. He left his
baggage and walked towards the car park to see if his car
was there. When he turned, his luggage was gone.
Recently outside Milan Airport, Preeti
Shah (name changed), systems specialist, Tata Consultancy
Services (TCS) was a victim of bag lifting. As she was waiting
outside for a taxi, a woman threw chocolate sauce and snatched
the briefcase which contained documents, cash and credit card.
Mala Rastogi was coming from New York
to Mumbai with her lifes savings in the form of gold
jewellery and other valuables. At New York, the officials
told her to deposit her valuables in the check-in baggage.
It turned out to be the worst advise she received in her life.
When she reached Mumbai airport, all the goods had been taken
and replaced with foreign chocolates.
Rohan Mehta was at the check-in counter
of an airport when a well-dressed and eloquent fellow passenger
accosted him and struck up a conversation. In the aeroplane,
Mehta found that his palm-top and gold cigarette case was
missing. Later, the airports CCTV showed that the fellow
passenger had robbed him.
To name a few things the business traveller of today has to
guard himself against: bag lifting, baggage tampering, pilferage,
touting, and money exchange rackets. Though the modus operandi
changes from airport to airport, in Indian airports the primary
problem is that of touting and the harassment and crime which
these touts foster. Their modus operandi ranges from passenger
harassment at the taxi service region to creating an artificial
scarcity of trolleys and then charging a fee to provide one.
Said a source from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF),
under whose jurisdiction the law and order in most Indian
airports have fallen since the heightening of terrorist threats,
Overcrowding outside airports is the primary reason
for touts to flourish. The solution is to streamline traffic
movement and clearing the area outside the airport.
Bag-lifting and bag tampering are other common crimes which
cut across countries. Poor lighting in the car park area is
a major cause of muggings and thefts.
R Khanna, (name changed) from a leading industrial house,
offers some solutions. He says, A more efficient baggage
handling machinery is required. A proper check, especially
with respect to recruitment and appointment of loaders and
ground handling staff, is essential to ensure the safety of
passengers. The cumbersome process of lodging a complaint
also need to be simplified. Providing additional staff to
facilitate faster service at check-in, customs and immigration
counters, would ease the queues which indirectly foster crime.
Passengers also need to be alert.
Sudhir Kumar, airport director, Airports Authority of India,
Mumbai says the crime rate has reduced but passengers
need to be proactive.
To improve airport efficiency, a number of changes have
been introduced at Mumbai airport such as installation of
CCTVs at strategic points, surprise inspections and rounds,
mock drills, disguised officers on patrol, introducing the
system of registering the name of each loader and ground handling
staff. But we would be grateful if passengers bring to our
notice any misdeeds involving officials. Passengers must not
leave bags unattended, seek help from unauthorised persons
or encourage the giving of unreasonable amounts in the form
A CISF official said, Presence of mind and alertness
are a must for the traveller of today. Passengers should not
take people at face value. Be guarded and aware at all times.
It is better to be safe than be sorry. All expensive goods
should always be carried in the accompanied baggage rather
than in the check in baggage.
Business travellers say Mumbai airport has become safer. The
urchins problem outside the arrival section has decreased
to an extent. But there are still a number of hurdles. Installing
new machines and introduction of state-of-the-art gadgets
would bring in greater efficiency, said Khanna.
Mohan Mane, senior inspector of police, Sahar Airport Police
Station, Mumbai, said , Incidences of crime at the airport
has definitely reduced in the last few months
Carry valuables in the accompanied
luggage and not the check-in baggage
Be alert and guarded, do not take people at face value
Dont leave baggage unattended
Dont entertain conversations with unofficial
loaders, unauthorised officials and touts
Book transport such as cars or cabs from official
pre-paid counters or reservation centres
Please dont encourage tipping, especially to
the airport staff. If they demand a certain sum, take
down their number and report the same to the authorities
In case of an emergency, directly report immediately
to officials such as the airport manager or the CISF
(airport security unit) which in turn will pursue
the matter further.
Seek help of the tourism police
If one observes or notices any questionable object
or person, please report to the concerned officials
at the earliest, which is an act of public interest
It is important for passengers to know that after
one crosses the board that reads No checks beyond
this point, the passenger is free from all formalities
and need not show any of his documents for checking
Do lodge an FIR
Provided By AAI, CISF and state police
Touting: Outside the airport, touts harass
passengers claiming to offer transportation, accommodation
and other services
Baggage Tampering: The loaders, while transferring
the baggage from the aircraft to the ground, pilfer
Unofficial Money Exchangers: They either dont
give you the right exchange rate, or give you false
notes or just take your money and run away
Bag Lifting: Usually flourishes due to negligence
and expectations of the business traveller
Control overcrowding outside the airport
Improve the systems and bring in technically trained
staff, with an attitude toward customer service.
Streamline the process of lodging an FIR and also
the follow-ups associated with the same
The officials responsible for airport safety and security
need to be more proactive with a passenger friendly
The procedures at the check-in counters, immigration,
customs and security need to be further streamlined
The car park areas need to be well lit and the process
of the pre paid taxi service or the queue system must