21 November 2008
TSA agent helped himself to a $47,900 camera (and more!)
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the TSA. While I fully understand the importance of keeping our planes and airports safe, I'm just not sure the TSA is up to the job. The agency is also plagued by bad PR, mainly because of incompetent staff members and insane decisions that impact us as travelers.The latest in a long lineup of bad press for the agency involves TSA screener Pythias Brown. This 48 year old resident of Maplewood, NJ was supposed to keep bad stuff off the plane, but instead, he was helping himself to valuable items from the bags of people entrusting him with their belongings. Pythias started small, stealing cameras, laptop computers, gaming consoles and eventually moved on to the good stuff including a video camera belonging to CNN, and a $47,900 camera stored inside the bag of an HBO employee.The items were sold on Ebay, and as you can see from his feedback listing, these were not cheap items. His greed eventually came back to haunt him, when CNN found one of their cameras listed on Ebay.
With a little help from the local police department and the USPS, Brown was apprehended. When agents entered his house, they found 66 cameras, 31 laptop computers, jewelry, lenses, GPS devices and more. The total value of the stolen items is well over $200,000, and if you have ever lost an expensive item when flying from Newark Liberty Airport, you'll be thrilled to hear that the TSA is taking the matter "seriously".
News like this just reinforces the need to keep anything of value out of your checked bags.Of course, this also makes me wonder just how on earth a TSA agent is able to leave the sterile area of his or her local airport with a $47,900 camera hidden in their bag. We passengers get screened, so perhaps it is time to start screening TSA staff when they enter and leave the airport?