A number of posters on this forum have referred to airports' airside areas as 'safe' or 'secure'. It seems to me that the presence of security checks gives some passengers the impression that there is a reduced risk from thieves and pick pockets. I believe that airside areas offer opportunities for thieves because

  • Travellers are often carrying more cash than usual;
  • Passengers are unpacking and repacking valuables (e.g. mobile phones, watches, tablet computers) at the security screening points;
  • Departing or transfer passengers can be stressed or disorientated;

  • So-called 'duty free shops' have fewer inventory controls than those in shopping malls and on high streets;

  • Thieves can easily and cheaply gain access to airside areas (low cost airlines often offer very cheap fares).

I searched online but could not find any data on the incidence of theft in airside areas. Are there any airports or airport authorities that publish such data?

  • I don't know that anyone has thought of airside as more secure, other than everyone there having undergone a check by airport security. Do you refer to airside as secure in the context of it being a "sterile" area (ie Everyone there is cleared to be there)? I don't think governments are required to publish the data you ask for in any report. Only way I can think you'd get that is by looking at individual airport police reports.
    – Ozzy
    Jul 12, 2019 at 20:14
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    I have never understood the 'secure' when referring to secure areas at an airport to mean anything but 'behind the security checks'. I would not at all imagine that there 'is a reduced risk from thieves and pick pockets' in these areas. Jul 12, 2019 at 20:14
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    I would imagine the "secure" area to be also fairly crime safe. The only people with access are airport/airline employees and people with a boarding pass. There is probably some opportunistic theft but if you intended to steal something, the airport secure seems like a very unattractive choice since you need to get a boarding pass and there is lot of police near by
    – Hilmar
    Jul 12, 2019 at 20:37
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    Report rate of petty crime will also be lower, as people will worry they won’t have time before boarding. Jul 12, 2019 at 22:54
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    @Aganju: sure you can, but why would you? It's so much easier to go stealing at he local train station where there is a lot less security, access is not restricted and there are many ways to run out if you need to. It simply makes no sense for a crook to target an airport secure area since there are plenty of easier more attractive targets
    – Hilmar
    Jul 13, 2019 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


'Secure' applies to the TSA's understanding of 'free of weapons and other stuff that is not allowed to be carried on an airplane'. It has no relation to 'crime-secure' or even 'crime-reduced'.

It is a different question if thieves would consider this a good area to work in; as they would have to show an ID when entering, and will probably be video-recorded in the terminal, it would be quite risky - even being seen by a by-stander gets you caught for sure, as there is no simple running-away possible. Therefore, most professional thieves would probably roam in other places.

[consider also how easy it is to walk into any airport to the luggage belts, pick some nice suitcases, and leave - but it's not happening much. Obviously, the video-taping makes it quite uninteresting for thieves.]

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