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July 20, 2013

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Woman detained for theft of aircraft life vest

A WOMAN was yesterday detained for five days for taking a life vest from a passenger aircraft, police said.

The passenger, surnamed Yin, 26, had been traveling on a Spring Airlines flight from Guangzhou to Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport on Thursday.

She said that "out of curiosity" she put a life vest stowed under her seat into her bag after the aircraft had landed.

Yin came forward and confessed to airport police yesterday after a photograph appeared online on Thursday showing her holding the vest while a man and boy look on.

A local photographer posted the picture, taken at Hongqiao airport Terminal 1 station on Metro Line 10.

The photograph was reposted thousands of times by web users, with most condemning the theft.

"You took away a life vest that might lead to the loss of a life," the photographer, surnamed Shen, wrote in the photograph's caption.

Local carriers launched inspections of their aircraft after the release of the photograph and Spring Airlines confirmed that a life vest was missing from one of its jets.

The carrier said that is was immediately replaced.

A life vest costs about US$80 but is designed for using only once, an official with Spring Airlines said.

Other airlines revealed that the theft of life vests is a headache for them.

China Eastern Airlines loses some 6,000 life vests every year, an official with the airline said yesterday.

"Most are passengers taking life vests to use as a swimming aid, while others take it as a souvenir," the China Eastern official said.

It's difficult for cabin crew to keep an eye on passengers to prevent them taking life vest, a flight attendant surnamed Tan with Air China said.

Tan said the crews check life vest beneath every seat and replace any missing ones before a flight departs.

Under Chinese law, theft or damage on a passenger aircraft that endangers safety can result in a 10-year jail sentence.


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