Singaporean Airport Worker Charged In Court With 286 Counts Of Intentionally Changing Baggage Tags

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An elderly man working at Singapore Changi Airport as a baggage handler has been charged in court with mischief after allegedly changing destination tags on passenger baggage, causing them to get lost.

Prosecutors blame the 63-year old for at least 286 counts of intentionally causing baggage to get lost and subsequently resulting in damages to the owners and airlines for recovery efforts.

Singapore Changi Airport is known for being comfortable and reliable but stories such as these make you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes at the prestigious airport.

The story was initially published in the Straits Times (access here) under court reporting.

A baggage handler at Changi Airport allegedly swapped the tags on hundreds of bags, sending the luggage to incorrect destinations.

Tay Boon Keh, 63, who worked for industrial equipment supplier Lian Cheng Contracting – a subcontractor of the Changi Airport Group – was charged in court on Tuesday (Sept 19) with 286 counts of mischief.

He is believed to have started his crime spree on Nov 8 last year by swapping the baggage tag of a Penang-bound piece of luggage with another bag.

The baggage tag had a serial number indicating that the Penang-bound bag was supposed to be transported on a Singapore Airlines flight.

It was not mentioned in court where the affected bag finally ended up nor why did it suggest any motive for the act. Tay is believed to have subsequently swapped around baggage tags almost every day for three months until this February. The affected bags were originally bound for places including Hong Kong, Manila, London and Perth.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Changi Airport said this was an isolated case of mischief and there was no breach of aviation security at the Changi aerodrome.

Its spokesman added: “Nonetheless, we have enhanced access control as well as the CCTV coverage in the baggage handling area. Patrols have also been stepped up.”

Sounds like a disgruntled employee or simply a mentally disturbed individual (or possibly a combination of both) otherwise I can’t see any logical reason why someone would do this. Not like he gets anything out of this or having even met the people whose trip he ruined.

Also keep in mind that the airlines affected likely had to spend a considerable amount of money and resources in tracing the bags and re-uniting them with their owners if even possible.

Conclusion

The man is due back in court next month and it’s hard to say if they will come down hard on him or if there are mitigating circumstances. The article states that he was unrepresented during his appearance and that he intends to plead guilty to the offenses which can carry a jail term of up to a year and fines.

Singapore tends to come down hard on offenders (especially their own citizens) and especially those who embarrass the country in any way. The nation also sees a spike in elderly people who have to work in labor intensive jobs, sometimes past retirement age to make ends meet.

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