On my recent business trip to Indonesia during boarding of a local flight, I was lucky enough to see a clever robber in action. I was able to disrupt his behavior, but I am not sure whether at the end he was truly not successful. I hope with this blog I can help the readers to avoid critical situations for themselves, although I am fully aware talking about a robbery strategy online might only help to spread to idea.
Commonly low-cost carriers planes are entered not through a gate, but a ramp outside at the airport. In order to speed up the boarding customers can enter the plane from the front and the back. As my seat was in the back of the plane, I had entered the plane from the rear end. While stowing my backpack with PC above in the trunk, I got a strange feeling from the passenger sitting beside me at the window. My instinct told me something is wrong. I could not understand why my warning bells were ringing in my head, because the guy seemed like a common guy. His clothes might not be the newest style, but considering that I was traveling on a low-cost carrier I did not expect high fashion.
After a while an older female passenger pointed out that the guy next to me was sitting in her seat. I did not think much of it, but made space that the two can pass by me. When the guy got ready to move to another seat, he opened the overhead bin to grab his bag – at least that is what I commonly assumed. Just to make sure that nothing gets put on my back bag I observed his movements. After he had closed the bin, I noticed that he was carrying a computer bag similar to my business contact in Indonesia, who was sitting just a row ahead of me. As she had been looking at him as well, I assumed she had noticed that the guy had a similar computer bag like her.
All of the sudden, my mind connected the dots. There is a real possibility that the guy just stole the PC bag of my Indonesian contact. It took a while until my contact realized the critical situation. I got nervous, because the guy was walking up to front of the plane, when the doors had not been closed yet. While she rushed up to him, he sat down on an aisle seat very close to the exit. Long story short: My business contact got the bag back with nothing missing. Interestingly the guy had put a black computer bag in the overhead bin just above me, but I would not consider the shape or fabric similar to the bag of my contact. Honestly, I do not think this was a mishap, but strategy.
Although I do not approve of this kind of business, the strategy of the robber is amazing. The price of a LCC ticket will be always lower than the market price of a used PC, plus there might be even more goodies in the bag. Furthermore, he was clever by making sure to have a seat in the front of the plane, which allows a quick escape, plus who can prove that his behavior was not just a mishap and he can simply apologize. Although I was able to avoid one robbery, his clever strategy let me doubt whether he was not able to rob again on the same flight. For sure I expect him to be active again on a different flight.
Moral of the story: Travel with bags that are easy recognizable so that they cannot be replaced by something similar looking.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル) and wishing you a safe travel!
P.S. I wish the above is an April Fool’s Joke, but it is not. It is a true story!