Surveillance camera catches TSA employee rifling luggage

Eyewitness News 4 - Arizona


The travel season is here, but, do you feel safe sending your luggage through the airport?

The surveillance video is disturbing. A TSA worker at JFK airport in New York, allegedly rifling through a bag planted by police, removing jewels and money.

This suspect was charged with larceny and possession of stolen property.

Theft has been a problem for as long as travelers have been checking their bags, but now, the TSA is keeping track.

Since taking control of baggage screening nearly two years ago, it's received more than 28,000 complaints of damaged, lost or stolen items. The total value: nearly $36 million.

But no one knows how many of those are false claims.

Air traveler Randy Rutland says, "Everything was in the luggage when we left from here."

Rutland, of Louisiana, claims it happened to him while flying out of New Orleans.

He says his luggage was checked, then secured with blue tags to indicate they'd been hand searched by the TSA, but when he got his bags, a brand new digital camera and his daughter's compact discs were missing.

"I think somebody went through our bags, saw a nice camera and some cd's and they took 'em," Rutland says.

The value: $1600.

So far, the TSA has settled some 19,000 claims totaling $2.5 million, including $152,000 worth of claims at LAX,

$111,000 dollars at JFK, followed by Seattle, Las Vegas and Oakland.

The TSA is now adding surveillance cameras in baggage handling and secure areas to watch for theft.

TSA Administrator, Admiral David Stone, says, "In issues of theft, there's a zero-tolerance and we need to make sure that we route that out of our organization because it gets to the very core of who we are and that trust and confidence bond with the American people."

Only 66 TSA workers have been arrested out of 60,000 present and past TSA screeners, and for every TSA employee who handles a bag, it's touched by four airline employees.

Still, the TSA itself warns travelers to pack valuables, like jewelry and money in carry-on bags.



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