Ever lose something while traveling? Maybe you forgot it at a security checkpoint or the item disappeared from your baggage. If a passenger does forget their things at checkpoints then TSA agents are supposed to contact the passenger to try to return the stuff; or if an agent has to open checked-in baggage (locking it doesn’t matter — they break locks if they can’t open them), the agents are not supposed to take keep anything unless it is illegal. Too bad there are hundreds of TSA agents that feel otherwise.
ABC’s Nightline recently investigated theft by TSA agents at airports. As part of this investigation, Nightline ran checked-in bags at various airports around the United States that held cash and electronics, and purposefully forget electronics at TSA security checkpoints. All the checked-in bags returned with all contents inside and all the forgotten electronics were eventually returned — except for one iPad.
Andy Ramirez, a TSA agent in Orlando, took it upon himself to take Nightline’s forgotten iPad home. Nightline used the iPad’s “Find my iPad” feature to watch as the iPad moved away from the airport and finally end up at Ramirez’s house. Nightline gave Ramirez two weeks to return the iPad on his own (as he should have) but after he didn’t, they showed up — with camera in tow — at Ramirez’s house asking him about it. Ramirez of course denied it at first but after Nightline used the remote siren feature, Ramirez coughed up the iPad. The kicker? He blamed his wife for stealing it. You can watch it all go down in the following seven minute video:
As the video points out, Ramirez isn’t alone. There are hundreds of TSA agents that have been convicted for stealing items from passengers, with one agent stealing upwards of $800,000 worth of merchandise over the time span of a few years. There are probably even more that have not been caught, yet.
While I’m sure for every crook there are dozens of honest TSA workers, this really does put a question mark above the TSA. In fact, I recently traveled and, upon return, found some things missing from my checked-in, locked bags. (Nothing expensive.) My parents promptly blamed the TSA. I defended the TSA. Guess the joke’s on me.