Passenger alleges he was victim of syndicate theft on MAS flight from Tokyo

A blurred image of the alleged suspect

Another theft has been reported on board a Malaysia Airlines flight, with a Facebook user posting an extensive detailing of his ordeal flying between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Narita.

One month ago, we reported a similar incident that occurred on another a MAS flight from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur.

Douglas Cheah explains that he was sitting in the plane’s upper deck business class section of MH88 on Wednesday night when he noticed that a fellow passenger began suspiciously walking up and down the aisles. His demeanor was such that Cheah alleges that he was “pretending to do some stretching,” when in fact, he believes he was staking out unattended bags.

Taking off at 11:50pm, many passengers fell asleep soon after, Cheah among them, despite his reservations over the man he has seen “stretching.”

Uneasy, he woke up at 4:30am and saw a different gentleman, wearing a black shirt, in the aisle attempting to open one of the overhead bins away from his seat. Realizing that he was now being watched, the man stopped suddenly.

Wondering if his own baggage had been affected, Cheah then checked his own belongings, finding that while his laptop and speakers were still there, the RM3,000 (US$725) in cash he had brought with him was no longer in his passport holder.

Alerting the crew, he spoke to a cabin crew member and pointed out the two men he believed were acting suspicious. Both the captain and cabin supervisor were alerted, and Narita airport was also informed that a crime had happened on board.

According to his post, the victim alleges that MAS unfortunately appeared to have no standard operating procedure do deal with thefts on board, and explained that, short of making an announcement, only authorities at the port of arrival could make any arrests.

Both suspects were traveling with Chinese passports; however, the victim stopped short of confronting them on the advice of flight crew.

After being diverted to Incheon, the flight finally landed in Narita five hours after it had originally been scheduled. Local officers explained that since the alleged thefts occurred over international airspace, on a Malaysia-owned plane, they could not arrest the men. Instead, they could only search and interrogate the men.

No Malaysian currency was found on either of the men, and they were released. Cheah believes a third accomplice was working with them, and the money was passed to them. No other passengers appeared to be affected, he said.

Japanese police have said that he can try lodging a report in Malaysia.

Disheartened, Cheah explained in his post that he believes that such syndicates are now sitting in expensive business class seats, and will store their bags at the front of the plane, giving them a chance to walk up and down the aisles unnoticed.

We’ve reached out to Malaysia Airlines for comment, and are awaiting their response.

Meanwhile, a second incident involving one of the airline’s planes occurred last night. Malaysian Airlines flight MH1, leaving London en route to Kuala Lumpur, was forced to turn back late Thursday night over a technical issue.

Shortly after takeoff at 9:58pm, the plane made a turnaround back to Heathrow Airport, dumping fuel in the English Channel before making an emergency landing.

Passengers will now be put on another flight, with their food and accommodation paid for in London by the airline while they wait.

There you have it! Keep your valuables with you, and if you’re anything like us – take the bus whenever possible.

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