Rodel Vinluan, a Qatar Airways CCTV and access control security agent, has been honored for helping to capture seven men suspected of stealing $82,500 (QR301,125) from a Turkish passenger at Doha International Airport in January.
Earlier this week, the 38 year-old Filipino expat received a certificate of appreciation from the ambassador of the Philippine embassy in Qatar.
The event took place last Sunday, on Migrant Workers Day, a day that provides recognition to all Filipinos working overseas.
Speaking to Doha News, Leny Cleofas, an embassy welfare officer, said:
“We wanted to reward Rodel for his outstanding performance. As Filipinos, we are very proud of what he did, and he is not the first Filipino to rightfully return lost money to its owner.”
Cleofas was referring to an incident last November, in which a 24-year-old Filipino expat turned in a lost bag containing QR50,000 in cash, a check for QR200,000 and an iPhone.
Vinluan has also received recognition from Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar al-Baker, who in a letter wrote:
“You provided excellent service to a passenger in need and demonstrated the value that an effective security team provides at Doha International Airport.”
Details of incident
The incident took place during Vinluan’s night shift at the Doha International Airport on Jan. 18, 2014. A Turkish passenger claimed to have left his briefcase which contained $82,500, in the airport’s restroom.
After he reported that the case had gone missing, Vinluan said he and his colleagues spent hours looking through CCTV footage to find that a Malaysian man had taken the briefcase and then divided the money between himself and six others.
The passengers had been preparing to board their flight to Italy when they were apprehended by authorities.
Speaking to Doha News, Vinluan recalled the event:
“It was one of the biggest cases we have seen take place. My colleagues and I were on duty for 16 hours that night, collaborating with the Ministry of Interior to try and get to the bottom of the incident.”
The case is now going through Qatar’s court system, and those involved are still being investigated, including the Turkish passenger himself.
The requirement to declare currency while traveling during varies by country. According to the IATA’s website, Qatar’s customs laws do not require passengers to declare money when passing through the airport.
However, the Turkish passenger failed to declare to authorities in his home country that he was carrying more than $5,000 when he left.
To ensure security, HIA has set up a new camera system, according to Vinluan.
“We have been spending almost all of our time studying where to put each and every camera. We’ve put a lot of investigation into ensuring that by the end of it all, the whole airport has camera coverage,” he added.
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Qatar customs declarations do not require currency to be declared. However, other countries have different rules. Additionally, the nationality of one of the arrested people has been removed the Embassy of Malaysia in Qatar and the Capitol Police Station have confirmed that no Malaysians were jailed following the incident.