Suvarnabhumi Airport Map

Suvarnabhumi Airport : Flight Status

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Suvarnabhumi vows to target luggage thieves

Airport, airlines blame outsourced companies




This special combination lock, recommended by the US Transportation Security Administration, can be opened by airport officials making random security checks of luggage. The officials have secured codes and tools to safely open and reclose the locks, without cutting them or damaging the bag.



Suvarnabhumi airport is stepping up surveillance of luggage on conveyor belts _ not to look for explosive material, but to prevent bags from being opened and valuables stolen by staff, airport director Serirat Prasutanond said yesterday.


Mr Serirat said security cameras are an effective tool for monitoring irregularities at the airport, but the airport needs more people to patrol areas where cameras are not installed.


He made the comments after reporting on thefts from luggage of inbound passengers at the airport.


The airport is only required to oversee baggage on its conveyor belts, while airlines are responsible for carrying bags to and from the terminal, he said. Airlines outsource the duty to other firms.


Besides staff of the various firms, other thieves could be people who pretend to be luggage transporters, Mr Serirat said. They board vehicles transporting luggage and rummage through the bags, he said.


One suspected thief has been arrested after an illegal act was recorded by security camera, he said. Another incident occurred on Aug 12, when a passenger of a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight from Chiang Mai to Suvarnabhumi complained of valuables being stolen, Mr Serirat added.


Chayata Tharnpisalsamut, a university student, said brand-name handbags and belts were stolen from her luggage early this year on the flight from London to Bangkok. The bag was delayed for a day and it had been opened, she said.


''My friend lost 10 Diesel watches among other things,'' she said of a friend who returned on a flight from the US.


Some thefts have been blamed on employees of companies hired by THAI and Bangkok Airways to carry passengers' bags between airplanes and the terminal.


Chaturongkapol Sodmanee, deputy director of Suvarnabhumi, said bags from the US were vulnerable because, according to a US law, passengers are not allowed to lock their luggage, facilitating random checks at airports, unless they use devices approved by the US Transportation Security Administration. These locks are specially designed to be opened only by certain airport officials who need to inspect bags, he said.


THAI president president Apinan Sumanaseni vowed to make sure companies hired by THAI did not employ people who would be involved in such criminal acts.


By AMORNRAT MAHITTHIROOK

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