An unusual series of thefts on a French airport shuttle has now ended, with those responsible caught and sentenced.
Numerous passengers on the Porte Maillot-to-Paris Beauvais Airport service journeyed on with lighter bags and fewer – or no – valuables contained inside but how? Police investigators now have the answer.
The Port Maillot-Beauvais shuttle is a popular one. Taking 75 minutes to complete, it covers the 90 kilometres between a Parisian metro station and an airport that millions use each year. With no stops on the way, it’s a direct service. That gives no opportunity for thieves to get on, or get off, once the journey is underway. But still, items kept disappearing from the luggage compartment. With no indications of forced entry, French detectives just didn’t know what to make of this. Then, a breakthrough was made.
One of the airport shuttle bus drivers observed something suspicious: a large, brown-coloured bag entering the luggage compartment. It wasn’t the bag’s size or colour that aroused suspicion but the fact it seemed to be ‘alive’.
French police were informed and, positioned at Beauvais, prepared to meet the bus upon arrival. A Romanian man walked off it, ready to take away both the brown bag and a black rucksack. It turns out he was one half of a two-man crime duo, with a well worked-out routine in place.
The other man involved was hidden within the larger bag. Inside this bag was a special strap, connected to the zip. Undetected, ‘bag-man’ was loaded onto the bus then, when the coast was clear, pulled the strap to unzip the bag from the inside. He then had over an hour to rummage through every piece of luggage around him.
Airport Shuttle Thief
Valuable items left their owners’ cases and were transferred into the black rucksack. The thief then zipped himself back up into the brown bag as the airport shuttle transfer service reached its end. Finally, along came the other man – ostensibly an everyday passenger - to collect both bags from the scene.
That was until the day he was intercepted. "In the black bag, we found two laptops, money and various objects of value”, a Police representative later told the AFP news agency. In the brown bag, they found the luggage thief. Both men – about 40 years of age – had previously been arrested for theft.
Sentencing took place on 16 October 2017. ‘Bag-man’ was given eight months – ‘collection-man’ got 12 months, because his past crimes.
Paris-Beauvais Airport – known also as Beauvais–Tillé – is France’s 10th-busiest, with almost four million passengers passing through last year. Its runways handle mostly budget airline and charter traffic: low-cost carriers Ryanair and Wizz Air operating both regular and seasonal services to it.