A report released Saturday by Xinhua noted that the January 3 alert was initiated after dozens of Chinese nationals were robbed of amounts ranging from $240 to $5,000 on a December 29 flight from Beijing to Prague. The travelers were flying on Hainan Airlines.
According to reports, the thievery only came to light after one of the robbed passengers noticed that her money was missing an estimated 30 minutes prior to landing in the Czech Republic. Alarmed, this was when several other passengers noticed that they, too, had been robbed.
And just like in a classic murder mystery, officials on the plane knew that the culprit was onboard and that only time would reveal which passenger had sticky fingers.
As passengers scrutinized their belongings, the South China Morning Post reported, a search ultimately led to the arrest of a 40-year-old man, who was nabbed after travelers found scrunched up banknotes underneath his seat. A "thick wad" of US dollar bills was also discovered inside the man's pillow.
Local media outlets in Prague later reported that the suspect likely had two other accomplices on the flight, but that they had transferred onto flights heading to Belarus after landing in Prague, Channel News Asia reported.
Citing a report from Chinaqw.com, the Post noted that Chinese passengers have repeatedly been targeted by criminal gangs interested in stealing their valuables during flights over the years. The robbers tend to work in groups of two or more and place their own luggage far from their seats in order to scope out the plane.
A man was recently sent to jail for eight months after pleading guilty to stealing roughly $2,000 from a passenger on a flight from Hong Kong to Brunei.