Baggage handler accused of swopping tags on hundreds of bags at Changi Airport

Tay Boon Keh allegedly swopped the tags on hundreds of bags, sending the luggage to incorrect destinations. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A baggage handler at Changi Airport allegedly swopped 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 swopping 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 swopped 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.

Besides Singapore Airlines, they were also supposed to be transported on carriers such as Silkair and Lufthansa.

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."

Tay, who was unrepresented, was expressionless as he stood in court before District Judge Adam Nakhoda on Tuesday.

The court heard that he intends to plead guilty to his offences and he will be back in court on Oct 17. If convicted of mischief, he can be jailed for up to a year and fined for each charge.

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