South Africa: SAA passengers' holiday ruined after engagement ring theft on Sao Paulo flight

Cape Town – SAA passenger Laura Melville had no idea that her supposed engagement ring was travelling with her and her partner Ernst Grobler when they visited South America on 25 February this year. 

And how could she? Ernst had hidden the Grobler family heirloom in an ear plug box in his hand luggage – a safe but inconspicuous storage space that no typical robber would look at twice.  

But flying to Sao Paulo on SAA flight 222 from Johannesburg to Guarulhos International Airport in February, the couple wasn’t targeted by typical robbers, they say. 

Laura Melville told Traveller24 that they believe a crime syndicate – similar to the one operating on the SAA Hong Kong route – is operating on the SAA South American route to Sao Paulo. 

Melville says she believes the valuables were most likely spotted during the scanning process already. And once in the cabin, their luggage was specifically and strategically targeted. 

“Our money, about R20 000 or $1300, as well as my credit card and what was meant to be my engagement ring were removed from our hand luggage whilst we slept,” she told Traveller24.  

“It's impossible that someone would have ‘stumbled upon [the ring]’, as even I was unaware of its existence,” she says. 

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