DCP of Delhi Airport Nabs High-flying Thief for Stealing Valuables from Handbags of USA-bound Passengers

The recent arrest of a high-flying thief at New Delhi Airport, once again, proved how vulnerable unaccompanied passengers are, particularly elderly travelers. We often see media reports about international flyers having lost valuables from their checked-in bags; the missing of cash, credit cards, ornaments and other valuables from handbags or carry-on baggage is not a rare occurrence. The thief is identified as some Rajesh Kapoor, a frequent flyer and serial offender, who reportedly took 200 flights across India over the past 12 months only for his smart heists in the air.

“The complaints that two USA-bound travelers lodged in a couple of months about the theft of jewelry from their carry-on bags got Rajesh Kapoor arrested”, said Usha Rangnani, the DCP of Delhi IGI Airport. One complainant fell prey to his ‘modus operandi’ during her flight from Hyderabad to New Delhi, from where she was scheduled to make an international trip to the US in April. The other victim was a US citizen flying from Amritsar to New Delhi in February this year.

airport baggage theft, missing items from passenger handbags in India, Indian aviation news

Nabbing the frequent flyer thief was like finding a needle in a haystack. Though Rajesh Kapoor was among the suspects for his history of similar crimes, his name was not found on the passenger lists of those flights. The cops phoned some passengers from the list to check whether their contact numbers were active. Only one passenger’s contact number was found to be occasionally active. Further investigation revealed that the phone number belonged to a diseased person. The DCP of DEL Airport was able to track down the suspect using technical surveillance. After being caught, Rajesh Kapoor admitted having forged the identity of his late brother.

His primary targets were unaccompanied senior citizens, specifically elderly women passengers with handbags. As part of his ‘modus operandi’, he would stalk them at airport terminals and zero down on his potential preys among them. The chaos during boarding at peak airport hours would give him the opportune moment to steal valuables from their handbags unnoticeably. “His method, carefully timed to coincide with the distractions in the boarding process, allowed him to operate undetected,” the DCP told the Times of India.

In some cases, he followed the gullible targets on board. He preyed on them the moment when they got busy settling into their seats. If that moment eluded his luck, he would wait for the right midair opportunity. At times, he was so desperate that he would go to the extent of requesting the flight attendant to get him seated near the target on board.

Apparently, he had been committing baggage thefts since 2005 and started this from AC coaches of long-distance passenger trains, as per media reports. Over time, passengers of domestic connecting flights became his targets. Initially, his crime was limited to stealing wristwatches, high-end accessories, cash or cards from the bags that male passengers put on trays during pre-boarding security checks at airports. With the passing of time, he became smarter and more sophisticated in his profession.

This is not the first time he has been arrested and put behind the bars. In October 2017, the Hindustan Times published a news report on his arrest at Mumbai Airport where he flew to after stealing some $1400 from the handbag of a Chinese flyer at New Delhi Airport.

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