Jul 9, 2011

TSA Takes Your Stuff

It's not enough to lose your dignity and your 4th Amendment rights, but now you're going to lose your stuff on that trip to see grandma?

30-year-old Nelson Santiago-Serrano, a former Transportation Security Administration worker at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, has been charged with two counts of grand theft. The Broward Sheriff’s Office accuse Santiago of stealing more than $50,000 worth of electronics from passenger luggage over the past six months.

How was he caught? Apparently a Continental Airlines employee caught him in the act of extracting an Apple iPad from a passenger’s luggage and stuffing it down his pants. Somehow the former TSA agent thought that nobody would notice that he had a 9.5-inch tablet stuck in his trousers? This guy is above the law, though, right?

Broward detectives say that Santiago would immediately take a photo of his stolen electronics and put them up for sale online, even before his shift ended. The devices include computers, GPS devices, cameras and, of course, trouser-sized iPads.

This isn’t the first time a TSA agent has been caught stealing from passenger luggage.

But it's more than that, say some conspiracy theorists...
It defies public-trust expectations, but there's a theory that rogue officers at the Transportation Security Administration who think nothing of stealing your stuff.

The TSA also estimates that for every TSA employee who touches a bag, some six to 10 airline or airport employees and contractors also have — mostly out of view of the passenger.

In our ongoing attempt to quit bitching and offer solutions - Here are a few steps you can take to keep your things out of thieves’ hands:

As much as possible, keep a watchful eye on your belongings. “You are responsible for your property as it proceeds through the screening process,” according to the TSA.

Do not pack jewelry, cash, laptops, public fountains, electronics or any fragile items in your baggage. Leave anything that you can’t live without at home.

Skip the trays that the airport provides for jewelry, watches and wallets, and belts — using them invites theft. Take off those items before you get to the security line and put them in the pocket of a carry-on.

If you have a lost or missing item from a security checkpoint, check the airport’s lost and found first. The TSA has a list of all the phone numbers at every airport.

If you think your property was stolen, or damaged, during the screening process you can file a claim online.

Also lock your bags and check your inventory throughout your trip. More importantly, be on the lookout for TSA agents that have Spongebob Squarepants if you suddenly can’t find your iPad or Xoom.

Or better yet - how about we stand up and tell our government we'll take our chances with the Terrorists? Shut down the security theater!

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