On October 23,2008,one Dinesh Somani,a businessman from Mumbai,arrived at the Delhi Airport around 9 am. Minutes later,he discovered Rs 6 lakh in cash and gold jewellery worth Rs 3.5 lakh missing from his hand baggage.
Similarly on August 31,a foreign passenger complained to the airport manager that a staff had demanded $100 as airport tax from him. When asked for a receipt,the person returned the money and said he would come back with one,this passenger told the airport manager.
These are not one-off cases that have been cracked by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Though the security apparatus has benefitted from the two closed-circuit control rooms commissioned last year,the CISF says its constant surveillance at the premises has kept crime in check.
While 134 cases of theft were registered at the Palam and IGI airport police stations in 2007,the number dropped to 73 in 2008.
In Somanis case,CISF personnel alerted the control room around 9.30 am. An official said: The video footage was checked and we found Somanis suitcase was opened by another passenger when it was left unattended for a few minutes. He removed a pink packet from it.
After thorough observation,the CISF could make out that three passengers of the same flight were involved in the theft.
They were at the arrival hall till 9.15 am after which they boarded a taxi from terminal 1B,sources in the CISF said.
The CISF team profiled the manifest of the airline and separated those who had travelled in groups. The suspects were immediately identified. Their photographs were sent to various agencies,including the CISF arm at the Mumbai airport.
The Mumbai unit was asked to run the input with the citys police stations and check if these men had a criminal past. It did not take long to find out that they had been involved in thefts before,sources said. The police later arrested the culprits. The cash and valuables were recovered from them.
The CISF is extremely careful foreign passengers are not fooled into shelling out money. In the second case,the offender an airline staff was identified from the television footage. An official said: His services were terminated by the airline concerned.
Similarly,on August 13,the CCTV footage caught loaders taking out personal belongings from unlocked pockets of bags. The CISF personnel reached the spot immediately and recovered two belts,toiletries,torches,cigarettes and lighters from the men. The working pass of the loaders were seized.
Again on December 21,an airline staff reported his cellphone missing from the security hold area in terminal 1A. The CCTV footage pointed at another staff. He sniffed something wrong when summoned to the control room and managed to dispose of the phone in an airport dustbin. But he admitted to the crime when shown the security video. He brought back the phone, an official said.
CISF spokesperson Rohit Katiyar said: Our men are honest and know they are under proper supervision. We have also recovered several unclaimed luggage with the help of closed-circuit televisions.