Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Large cache of passports stolen by armed robbers

Over 500 travelers forced to cancel Moon Festival holiday plans

Large cache of passports stolen by armed robbers

A total of 501 passports of Taiwanese citizens were stolen by four gunmen on the doorstep of a noted travel agency in Taipei Thursday evening, police said yesterday.
Staff of Cola Tour Agency were preparing to send the passports, wrapped in two bags, to Taoyuan International Airport when they were robbed of the bags at their company's doorstep. The armed robbers managed to escape from the scene quickly, eyewitnesses said.
Taipei City police have formed a special task force to investigate the rare passport robbery that took place on Nanjing East Road, Section 2, one of the busiest commercial zones in the city.
Preliminary findings indicated that the robbers were familiar with Cola Tour's passport delivery operations. They ambushed Cola Tour staff and escaped via a sedan after the bold robbery, eyewitnesses said.
Police have checked surveillance videotapes provided by stores in the vicinity, and have determined that one of the robbers was dressed in black from head to toe while another wore a striped shirt. The police were able to sketch out the perpetrators' escape route and also learned, based on the getaway car's license plate number, that the vehicle was registered in southern Tainan County.
Cola Tour Vice President Lee Chi-po said all of the robbed passports belonged to passengers scheduled to depart yesterday for overseas trips at the beginning of the five-day holiday for Mid-Autumn Festival and Double Ten National Holiday celebrations.
According to Lee, the incident will affect 24 tour groups - 10 groups to Japan, five to South Korea, six to Thailand and one each to Singapore, Canada and Europe.
With the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unable to issue new passports for affected passengers overnight, the passengers were unable to go abroad yesterday as scheduled.
"In addition to offering our customers a full refund of travel fees, we'll also give them cash compensation amounting to 50 percent of the travel fees as stipulated in the contract," Lee said, adding that the company will apply for new passports for all of the affected passengers.
Cola Tour will incur an estimated loss of NT$10 million because of the incident, he said.
None of the passengers who were scheduled to leave today on Cola Tour-organized travel packages will be affected, Lee said.
To prevent human trafficking and document forgery rings from using the stolen passports to smuggle wanted criminals out of Taiwan, the Aviation Police Bureau has been ordered to tighten immigration inspections at the country's main gateways after the incident. The police said a Taiwanese passport could be worth up to NT$10,000 on the black market. This is the second time that Cola Tour has been robbed since 1999. According to the local media, the police were not ruling out that Thursday's robbery might be an insider job.


Updated : 2021-05-16 19:10 GMT+08:00