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Aircraft Theft

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 51 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1982) Pages: 2-6
U C Wood
Date Published
5 pages
Aircraft theft and theft of avionic equipment are increasingly prevalent crimes, often perpetrated in conjunction with drug smuggling. Owners need to step up preventive measures and investigation units need to better prepare themselves for aircraft theft crimes.
Airplanes are relatively easy to steal as long as the thief knows how to fly and is familiar with airport procedures. If the owner does not leave the keys in the aircraft, the plane can be hotwired. After starting the aircraft, the thief simply contacts the airport control tower for takeoff instructions. An additional area of aircraft-related thefts is the theft of avionic equipment (radios, navigation equipment, radar, etc.). Preventive steps by aircraft owners should include the following: (1) store the aircraft in a locked hanger or park it in a well-lighted and secure area; (2) use metal aircraft tiedown straps of sufficient strength to discourage cutting; (3) install antitheft devices, such as wheel locks; (4) complete a list of all serial numbered items on the aircraft; (5) keep an aircraft logbook to show any aircraft modifications; and (6) check radios and navigation equipment regularly to ensure they have not been switched. To facilitate investigation of aircraft thefts, police should become familiar with aircraft and their components. Stolen aircraft data should be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center. Nationwide stolen aircraft alerts may be placed by providing the local Federal Aviation Administration General Aviation District Office or Flight Service Station with descriptive information.