Airport baggage theft plummets


People, processes and technology make a difference, says Acsa.Reported baggage theft and pilfering has fallen by over 60% since the beginning of the year at OR Tambo International Airport, as a result of better policing and the use of technology, says the Airports Company of SA (Acsa).

Airport spokesperson Tasniem Patel says OR Tambo handles an average of 24 000 bags each day and used to have 24 to 34 bags tampered with daily.

“The numbers now range between six to eight bags per day.”

She attributes the decrease in theft to the change in baggage handling companies earlier this year, as well as to the work of a Baggage Protection Unit, headed by a former Scotland Yard detective, and technology.

“Since its inception in December, the Baggage Protection Unit has settled down well and the effect of the unit is being felt.”

Patel says the unit operates alongside comprehensive CCTV monitoring and access control that enforces the restricted zone around baggage handling areas.

“All airside staff now make use of a single gate for entry and access, called Charlie Gate. Security at the gate has been upgraded at a cost of R8 million to include new screening equipment.”

Car control

Meanwhile, Acsa has also had success in eliminating vehicle theft from its parking areas.

Patel says the airport uses a licence plate recognition (LPR) system that automatically records a vehicle`s registration number on the parking ticket issued to its driver when entering an airport parking area.

The LPR system also captures an image of the vehicle and driver.

“When the driver has paid for the parking and inserts the exit ticket at the boom, the system automatically reconciles the registration number on the ticket, with the registration number of the exiting vehicle. The boom will only open if the number on the ticket corresponds with the registration number of the ticket,” says Patel.

No cars have been stolen from Acsa parking areas so far this year, at least not to Acsa`s knowledge, says Patel.

But the system not only helps foil thieves, it is also a useful customer service tool, she adds.

“With just a registration number, parking authorities will be able to identify the date and time at which the parking area was accessed, as well as the level at which the client entered. This would also be most useful in helping drivers locate ‘lost` vehicles when they forget to note their colour-coded parking level.”

Parking on credit

“In addition, ‘Pay on foot`, an automated payment system that accepts all major credit cards, as well as cash, is making our visitor experience more seamless. Visitors are able to pay using their credit cards at the exit booms. In addition, debit cards will be accepted at Acsa parking offices,” says Patel.

The improvements will also offer a simpler solution to customers that arrive at the exit boom only to find they have forgotten to pay for their parking.

“In such an instance, the customer would simply insert the parking ticket, followed by a credit card. Once the direct debt is recorded, the credit card is returned, followed by a card-shaped receipt. The boom will open as the receipt is removed.”

Related stories:
Acsa`s R80m IT spend just a start
Airline ticketing now paperless
Most African airlines ready for e-ticketing
IT to save airlines?
Baggage theft punishes airlines