Sept 27, 2012
When ABC News decided to investigate a reported spate of thefts by TSA officers of passenger belongings, its news team purposefully left an iPad behind at a checkpoint at Orlando airport. Barely two hours later, the device was tracked to the home of a TSA screener who then blamed his wife for the theft when he was confronted.
ABC News waited 15 days before going to the home of TSA officer Andy Ramirez and asking him to give the ipad back.
Ramirez reportedly denied knowing anything about the ipad at first, and told the team to contact the airport’s lost and found department. The news team knew full well that the TSA screener was lying because it had activated a tracking app that had been previously installed on the device.
When the team activated the app’s audio alarm feature, Ramirez went to retrieve the ipad and took off his TSA uniform before returning and handing over the device.
“My wife says she got the iPad and brought it home,” he told the news team. The ABC report notes that his wife then appeared at the door to say she had found it and “no told my husband.”
However, the news team had obtained security camera footage from the checkpoint that showed Ramirez taking the device. When they informed him of this he shut the door on them and did not respond to further questions.
Ramirez has since been fired by the TSA. The TSA did not respond to interview requests from ABC News. The outlet has since posted a “Rogues’ Gallery” of TSA agents who have been charged in connection with thefts from passenger bags.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said Rep. John Mica, R.-Florida, chair of the House Transportation Committee. “It is an outrage to the public, and actually to our aviation system.”
Mica, a consistent critic of the TSA, has pushed for airports to ditch the TSA and replace the agency with private security screeners.
Mica also pointed to the fact that the TSA does not carry out adequate background checks on its employees.
“[If] you’re not vetting them before you put them on the job, and allow them to rummage through people’s personal effects, there is something wrong,” said Mica.
Whistleblowers have also suggested that TSA bosses purposefully hire people with violent and criminal tendencies.