Convicted TSA Agent Says Stealing Is Common

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 29 2012 2:42 PM

Convicted TSA Agent: Stealing From Passenger Bags Is “Very” Common

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Transportation Security Administration agents screen passengers at Los Angeles International Airport

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A former Transportation Security Administration agent who spent three years in jail for stealing from passenger luggage told ABC News that the practice “was very commonplace.” Pythias Brown, who worked at Newark International Airport, said he stole more than $800,000 worth of goods from luggage and security checkpoints. He was finally caught when he tried to sell a stolen CNN camera on eBay but forgot to take off all the stickers that tied the camera to the news network.

"It became so easy, I got complacent," Brown said. Almost 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing from passengers over the past decade.

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Brown says he was never asked about suspicious behavior, including a time when he walked out of a security checkpoint with a Nintendo Wii in his hands. Now he says he wants passengers to be aware of the risk when they fly. And don’t think those fancy TSA locks will be of much help. Brown insists TSA employees have long figured out how to pick them without being detected.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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