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Man takes 200 flights to steal jewellery from co-passengers

A 40-year-old man was arrested for allegedly stealing jewellery and other valuables from the handbags of co-passengers on various flights. Image for representation purposes only. File
| Photo Credit: ANI

A 40-year-old man was arrested for allegedly stealing jewellery and other valuables from handbags of co-passengers on various flights, Delhi Police said on May 13.

The accused, Rajesh Kapoor, took at least 200 flights and travelled for more than 110 days during the past year to commit thefts, the police said.

At a press conference at the IGI airport, Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGI) Usha Rangnani said Mr. Kapoor had been arrested from Paharganj, where he allegedly kept the stolen jewellery.

He was planning to sell them to Sharad Jain, 46, who has also been arrested from Karol Bagh, she said.

Ms. Rangnani said two separate cases of thefts were reported on separate flights in the past three months, after which a dedicated team from IGI Airport was formed to nab the culprits.

On April 11, a passenger lost her jewellery worth ₹7 lakh while travelling from Hyderabad to Delhi. Another theft was reported on February 2, where a passenger had lost jewellery items worth ₹20 lakh while he was travelling from Amritsar to Delhi.

Ms. Rangnani said that during investigations, CCTV footage from Delhi and Amritsar airports and the flight manifests were analysed.

A suspect was shortlisted as he was seen on both flights on which theft incidents were reported, she said.

The officer said the phone number of the suspected passenger was obtained from the airlines concerned, but he had provided a fake number at the time of booking.

After technical surveillance, Mr. Kapoor’s original phone number was traced and he was caught.

On sustained interrogation, he confessed to being involved in five such cases, including one in Hyderabad, the police said.

He disclosed that he spent most of the cash on online and offline gambling.

Mr. Kapoor was found involved in 11 cases of theft, gambling and criminal breach of trust, out of which five cases were of airport.

Another police officer said Mr. Kapoor would target vulnerable passengers, particularly elderly women travelling internationally.

“Recognising the tendency of such passengers to carry valuables in their handbags, he strategically travelled in premium domestic flights, notably Air India and Vistara, bound for destinations like Delhi, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad,” the officer said.

The officer said exploiting the chaos of boarding, he would secretly rifle through overhead cabins, carefully assessing and stealing valuables from unsuspecting victims’ handbags while passengers settled into their seats.

On several occasions, after zeroing in on its target, he even got his seat changed from the airline to sit near the target, he said.

His method, carefully timed to coincide with the distractions inherent in the boarding process, allowed him to operate undetected.

To further evade detection, Mr. Kapoor employed a deceptive tactic — booking tickets under his deceased brother’s name — to shield his identity from both airlines and law enforcement agencies.

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