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Air hostess steals money from sleeping passengers


London, July 21, 2010:

An air hostess is facing 10 years in prison in France after admitting stealing money, credit cards and jewellery from business class passengers as they slept on long-haul flights.

The 47-year-old Air France employee dubbed the "Mile High Pickpocket" was caught following complaints about missing money, credit cards and designer jewellery.

She would rifle through pockets and handbags, helping herself up to 3,700 pounds on one single flight, Daily Mail reported.

"It would all go missing on the routes she was working on," said a source close to investigators, who looked at 142 flights attended by the woman, who is married with children.

"She knew that many of the passengers would fall asleep following a large meal and lots of alcohol. This is the time that she would start rifling through their property, helping herself to whatever she could find."

The woman, identified as Lucie R, was arrested when she got off a Tokyo to Paris flight last Friday.

When confronted with the evidence against her, she confessed to 26 different thefts, during which everything from antique watches to cheque books were taken.

Most took place on long-haul flights from France to the Far East. On one flight to Japan alone, five passengers complained about losing up to 3,700 pounds in cash.

Police charged her with 26 offences while suggesting that numerous other thefts "undoubtedly took place".

According to investigators, colleagues had become suspicious of Lucie R's lavish lifestyle. Despite officially earning less than 40,000 pounds a year, she regularly turned up for work in a top-of-the-range sports car and was buying plush apartments close to the airports where she worked.

Police also raided a bank deposit box in her home town of Rouen, western France, where Lucie R had hidden stolen property, including Cartier jewellery.

The woman is currently in custody in Paris and is expected to appear before court this week.