TSA: No amount is too small to steal


To start the first week of the New Year, we learned of yet another TSA screener theft. This time a Charlotte TSA worker, Reggie Edwards, 52, was charged with larceny under $50 after allegedly stealing $36 from a passenger’s suitcase on New Year’s Day.

On Monday the TSA responded via Blogger Bob Burns, saying: “Regardless of how little, no amount of theft by a TSA employee is tolerable. The agency moved immediately to terminate this individual.”

But we’ve heard this line before. Many times before.

The TSA didn’t indicate whether or not the victim in Charlotte was a child, would be reimbursed, or whether there were other reports of thefts by this screener before this one. Based on prior incidents, it’s doubtful there will be any reimbursement forthcoming.

The fact that the theft was only $36 was likely because that’s all that was in the wallet. This isn’t, however, the smallest amount of cash reported stolen by the TSA in the first week of the year. A post at the blog babycenter.com reported that a 14-year-old had $25 in cash along with a $25 gift card stolen from his wallet in his checked bag by the TSA. A $50 dollar loss to a 14-year-old probably represents a significant amount of money.

As we and other outlets have pointed out repeatedly, and last month in the case of an iPad theft at JFK, theft is a chronic problem at the TSA. The JFK incident barely elicited a response from Blogger Bob, who may have become weary of trying to spin the incessant stream of criminal arrests of TSA screeners. He offered only two sentences, saying the TSA was cooperating with Port Authority Police in the prosecution of the employee.

Blogger Bob dignified an iPod theft at Orlando in September 2012 with a more lengthy response, though it included that familiar qualifier: that thieves compose “less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency.”

Perhaps Bob put more effort into that response because the story was reported nationally, whereas the $100 cash theft at LAX in October wasn’t as widely reported. Bob left it to TSA spokesman Nico Melendez to recite the oft-used statement that “TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for theft.”

In any case, the TSA has demonstrated that its employees are equal-opportunity thieves: children and the poor are just as likely to be victims as the wealthiest of travelers.

(Photo: The Dark Thing/William Ross/Flickr Creative Commons)

  • thajack

    I had a small pack of Oreo cookies and a pack of gum stolen in West Palm Beach. I’m not kidding. When I confronted them with it they produced the cookies and the gum.

  • Dolt

    A smarter criminal would only steal these smaller amounts. Think of how many times he got away with taking $20 here, $30 there… an occasional $50. No one would go through the hours, days and weeks of hassle to report these thefts knowing there was pretty much no chance of ever getting their money back anyway. I imagine small time theft like this is way more rampant in the TSA than ipads and larger amounts of money.

  • And this just in:

    TSA baggage inspector arrested again; charged with stealing $150

    http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/tsa-screener-arrested-again-charged-stealing-150/nTsYp/

    • Susan Richart

      The tip of the iceberg.

  • .004 of 50,000 TSA employees leaves 200 “thieves” at anytime. This is certainly a bigger security hole than actual US airline passengers who have never had a working non-metallic bomb and suicidal intent which has killed anyone in over 50 years.

    Contrast that spotless record with 200 TSA employees – at anytime according to the TSA – who appear willing to risk theft or other illegal acts such as smuggling “packages” into ‘secure’ areas – leaving people much more exposed than the basically unmeasurable threat passengers pose. Given this unmeasurable threat, the TSA performs illegal searches of our persons and criminal touching of our private parts.

    • RB

      .004 of 50,000 TSA employees leaves 200 “thieves” at anytime. is not the right metric.

      The statement from TSA is that TSA thieves compose “less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency.”

      Those words, “That Have Been Employed” are very important. That would make the number of TSA thieves much higher than one might think.

      TSA has at times had employee turnover rates of about 25% so over the life of the agency the number of employees currently working plus those not now working could be very large.

      I have asked Blogger Bob what that number is but as typical it seems to be something that TSA is embarrassed to talk about..

      What we can all take away from the TSA statement is that thievery by TSA employees is out of control and TSA doesn’t have the smarts to deal with the problem.