A TSA agent convicted of stealing more than $800,000 worth of goods from travelers said this type of theft is “commonplace” among airport security. Almost 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing from passengers since 2003.
Pythias Brown, a former Transportation Security Administration officer at Newark Liberty International Airport, spent four years stealing everything he could from luggage and security checkpoints, including clothing, laptops, cameras, Nintendo Wiis, video games and cash.
Speaking publicly for the first time after being released after three years in prison, Brown told ABC News that he used the X-ray scanners to locate the most valuable items to snatch.
“I could tell whether it was cameras or laptops or portable cameras or whatever kind of electronic was in the bag,” he said.
Brown often worked alone, screening luggage behind the ticket counters. He was frequently told the overhead surveillance cameras, installed to prevent theft, were not working.
“It was so easy,” he said. “I walked right out of the checkpoint with a Nintendo Wii in my hand. Nobody said a word.”
With more electronics than any one individual could need, Brown began to sell the stolen items on eBay. At the time of his arrest, he was selling 80 cameras, video games and computers online. Brown said the theft was comparable to an addiction.
“It was like being on drugs,” he said. “I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ but the next day I was right back at it.”
Brown was finally caught after selling a camera he stole from the luggage of a CNN producer. When he sold the camera on eBay, he forgot to remove the news networks’ logo stickers.
“I got complacent,” he said.
But while Brown believes he might have been one of the worst thieves at the TSA, he imagines the agency’s culture makes it easy for others to do the same. Many officers don’t care about their work and complain about low pay and being treated badly, he claims, which prompts them to steal. To make it even easier to get away with, TSA managers also never search their employees’ bags.
The agency says it has a zero-tolerance policy for theft and terminates the contracts of all thieves within the TSA. In the past ten years, almost 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing, 11 of which were fired this year.
ABC’s interview with Brown highlights the extent of the dilemma passengers face when traveling with valuables. Brown is just one of many officers caught in the act of stealing goods worth thousands.
In February, 2011, two TSA officers were arrested for stealing $40,000 in cash from a checked bag in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Using an X-ray machine, the men found that the bag contained $170,000 and removed some of the money.
In the first two months of this year, a TSA baggage screener in Orlando was arrested for stealing valuables by hiding them in a laptop-sized hidden pocket in his jacket and selling the goods on Craigslist. And, a New Jersey-based agent stole $5,000 in cash from a passenger’s jacket as he was going through security
While in April, a Texas-based TSA officer stole eight iPads from checked bags, while another officer stole a $15,000 watch from a passenger at the Los Angeles International Airport in May.
“It was very commonplace, very,” Brown said, describing the frequency of theft within the TSA.
“TSA is probably the worst personnel manager that we have in the entire federal government,” said Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. “It is an outrage to the public and, actually, to our aviation security system.”
From Daily Mail:
A woman was arrested in Nebraska last week after allegedly drowning her 3-week-old puppy in an airport bathroom when she tried and failed several times to sneak the young doberman on her plane.
Cynthia Anderson, 56, was arrested on Friday and charged with with a felony count of animal cruelty.
Police say the Edgewater, Florida resident tried to board a flight out of Central Nebraska Regional Airport on Thursday with two small dogs in crates and three young puppies.
Following U.S. flight regulations, workers at the airport barred Anderson from boarding her flight because dogs younger than eight weeks old are not allowed to fly.
Anderson allegedly handed off two of the puppies to her parents who live in western Nebraska, and tried to board a flight the next day with the two older dogs in cages and the remaining puppy which she tried to hide in her carry-on bag.
It was when airport security caught her trying to smuggle the dog again that Anderson allegedly drowned the puppy in a bathroom.
Anderson was arrested after police interviewed 'numerous witnesses' - including the woman who discovered the dead dog in the bathroom.
An autopsy on the puppy was conducted at the Humane Society, and water was found in one of the dog's lungs.
Anderson's two older dogs are now in the care of her parents, while the other two puppies are at the Humane Society.
She remains in Hall County Jail on the felony charge.
According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, Anderson has a criminal record that dates back to 2010 when she was arrested and fined for stealing from a store. Over the next few years, she racked up other robbery-related charges and in 2011 was sentenced to six months of probation for grand theft.
She has also been arrested for writing a bad check and last year was collared for charges of batter and trespassing in an occupied structure. Those charges landed her another six months of probation.
via daily mail
From USAJOE: You know you're not in a safe area when...
A fake bank which was set up to look just like a real one has swindled Chinese savers out of 200m yuan ($32m; £21m), it's reported.
To customers in the eastern city of Nanjing the interior looked like any other state-owned bank, with uniformed clerks working behind the counters, the Southern Metropolis Daily website reports. Almost 200 people deposited their cash, including a businessman who handed over 12m yuan ($1.9m; £1.3m) in 2014. But he grew suspicious when he wasn't paid the promised interest on his money, and went to the police after the bank refused to return his savings. A police investigation found that it was actually a rural cooperative, which had none of the accreditations required to operate as a bank. It had been promising interest rates of 2% per week and high interest subsidies, police say.
The fact the "bank" was able to operate for so long has left some Chinese social media users incredulous. "More than a year, it looks like the authorities have gone blind," says one user on the Weibo social network. "Fake banks, and a fake local government," comments another user. Police have arrested five people over the scam, including a woman who reportedly high-tailed it to Macau, China's famous gambling centre, with the customers' money.
From ABC7:CHICAGO (KABC) --
A suspect who allegedly robbed a Domino's deliveryman accidentally shot himself in the finger while he was eating the stolen pizza.
Police said Armando Colon, 19, and Deon Reece, 16, ordered two pizzas to be delivered to the 3500 block of West Dickens Avenue on Jan. 14.
According to Assistant State Attorney Sarah Karr, when the deliveryman arrived with the food, Reece threatened him with a gun. Both Colon and Reece rifled through the man's pockets, took $40-$50 and the food and fled the scene.
Officials said Colon was eating the stolen pizza and he accidentally shot himself while he was handling the gun used during the robbery.
Someone called 911, and Colon was taken to an area hospital to be treated for his injury. He has a scar from the graze wound on a finger on his left hand, according to a police report.
Police said Colon and Reece were also behind another robbery of a Chinese food deliveryman this month.
Both were charged for the two robberies and appeared in bond court on Thursday. Reece was charged as an adult.
As Karr described Colon's misfortune before a judge, several onlookers in the courtroom softly chuckled.