‘Fragrance’ identified as OR Tambo baggage thieves’ favourite item of choice

OR Tambo International in Johannesburg is South Africa’s biggest and busiest airport. And it will see lots and lots of feet and luggage pass through its doors in the upcoming peak and festive season. 

The airport currently handles more than 35K bags every single day, according to the General Manager at OR Tambo, Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana.

Over the last year, incidents of baggage pilfering have increased significantly. Betty Maloka, Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs at OR Tambo says that in August this year the airport noted an increase in reports of tampering incidents.

“We assessed the reports received and identified some new methods being used to tamper with bags.” 

READ: OR Tambo International has banned these irregular-shaped bags 

They particularly noted that ‘perfume’ has become one of the most sought-after items, including gadgets and electronics. To put a stop to this behaviour, she says that since 1 November no individual working airside can have a fragrance or an aerosol bottle - in any shape or form – on their person while at the airport.

“Festive season is a busy period, as the volumes hike, we have put plans in place to mitigate any potential risks that may arise. And additional law enforcement resources have been allocated”. 

UPDATE: 'One bag can cause big jams' – OR Tambo to continue irregular baggage rules for June/July peak season travelling

OR Tambo International have taken an integrated approach as an airport community and will be supported by the extended security cluster. “For example, the airport’s baggage reaction unit will be supported by resources allocated by the SAPS,” says Maloka.

There will also be an increased frequency of random stop-and-search of any permit holders working airside and landside, as well as an increased frequency of surprise or unannounced security checks around aircraft during loading and unloading.

Betty says that passengers are always urged to report all incidents of pilfering and that she will be issuing a statement on the airport’s operational readiness next week, unpacking several tips for travellers. 

For now, lock it. Keep your valuables and fragrances on you. And don’t pack your Christmas presents in your check-in luggage as these can be big targets for airport thieves this festive season. 

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