BEWARE:TSA theft @ PHL airport security checkpoint

33 posts in this topic

Posted

I still can't believe it, but it's true. Try googling "TSA theft" - it's rampant!

On July 24, I flew MUC->PHL->IND, and was the victim of the classic "distract and grab" teamwork form of theft - and all signs point to the perpetrator as being a TSA employee! Apparently the Phildelphia airport has the distinction of being number nine in the top ten for thefts by TSA employees :-( I'm now in the process of filing a TSA claim and police report.

Here are the details, as I'm including them in my TSA claim (not that I expect any compensation, but I want it to be included in the statistics). Please don't be as naive as I was, and assume that all TSA employees are honest. From now on, I'll do the following:

- Take only one or two necklaces and one pair of earrings (AND WEAR THEM)

- Lock my purse before sending it through the scanner (it has locking clips)

- Never again blindly obey a TSA order that seems illogical, but rather (keeping my hands in the air) ask the reason for the order

- Double-check my belongings after scanning for signs of tampering or loss, and count them before leaving the TSA security checkpoint to make sure that nothing is missing. I'll not let the chaos around me distract me while doing this.

- If traveling with someone else, we will send one person through the body scanner while the other one puts all the items belonging to both persons through the scanner. The first person can then keep an eye on the possessions while the other one gets the full-body scan.

The claim report I'll submit:

Arriving on USAir flight 717 from Munich, Germany and transferring to USAir flight 1508 to Indianapolis on July 24, 2013, I was required to pass through the security checkpoint at the Philadelphia airport. Because I travel somewhat frequently, the routine was familiar: remove shoes, laptop, belt, etc. and place in the plastic tubs to be scanned. One of my items included a small carry-on suitcase containing an empty backpack and my small jewelry pouch. After placing the items in the tubs, I proceeded to the full-body scanner as I was only wearing a white tank top, loosely-knitted bolero top, small bandana, lightweight slacks, socks, plus underwear. Just before I reached the scanner, a male TSA employee yelled that I must remove my see-through knitted bolero top and bandana. I was puzzled because I thought the full-body scanners could easily see through a thin cotton bandana and loosely knitted bolero top. However, I immediately obediently obeyed his order and held my see-through knitted top and bandana for him to place in a bin and scan. He informed me that I must put the items in a plastic tub and send it through the scanner. I waited several moments, standing there holding these clothing items, thinking that he would hand me a plastic tub. A female TSA employee then scolded me for not proceeding into the scanner. Standing there with contradictory orders from two TSA employees, I politely told her that the other TSA employee had ordered me to remove these clothing items. Upon hearing this, she threw up her hands in exasperation and said ok, put them through the scanner. The male TSA employee then handed me a plastic tub and sent the clothing items through the scanner. In the meantime, the female employee came over to stand in front of me. I assumed she wanted to scan me with her wand before sending me into the full-body scanner, so I raised my sleeveless top slightly to show her that I wasn't wearing a belt of any kind. She told me to put my top down and proceed into the scanner. In the scanner, the footprints indicate that the person must face AWAY from their possessions. So my valuables were unattended for several more minutes before I could retrieve them. Because it was quite crowded at the checkpoint, I simply stuffed my laptop back into the rolling, carry-on suitcase and proceeded to my gate. I didn't realize it had been stolen until I got to my mother's house. During the flight, the suitcase was in the overhead bin above my head. Upon arrival, it was never out of my sight until I reached my destination (my mother's house). At first, I just assumed that I had left it on the kitchen table at home. That the puzzling incident at the TSA checkpoint could have resulted in the theft of my jewelry never crossed my mind. However, the jewelry pouch wasn't at home, nor at the Munich airport lost&found office, Phildelphia TSA office lost&found, or Philadelphia airport lost&found office. Because the only time it was out of my sight during the entire trip was those minutes at the Phildelphia TSA security checkpoint, I can only conclude that someone stole it there. The only person(s) who knew what was in the carry-on suitcase (and the small fabric pouch it contained holding the jewelry) were the TSA employees. The obvious targets, my purse and laptop, were ignored. The small fabric pouch could easily have been slipped into a trouser pocket.

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Posted

You're right Jaycool, thanks. I knew I had brought it with me, because I stuffed it in the suitcase at breakfast. Accusing someone of theft is very serious, and I simply couldn't believe that a TSA employee would steal something (how naive of me!), which is why I wanted to be 1,000% certain that it wasn't an error on my part. I'll go ahead and emphasize that it was stolen.

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Posted

TSA pays a shit wage, often drop outs feeling you up and the greatest thing is the TSA itself is responsible for following up on complaints about the TSA. <_<

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Posted

I somehow met a TSA employee years ago at a bar (friend of a friend). Without knowing me at all, he began to explain that since the security changes after 9/11, it was really easy to steal stuff. He also told me that he got to keep all of the discarded items that were arbitrarily not allowed to pass through, too. This guy was scum, and I'm sure he was the exception to the rule, but when you give people a low wage and a huge amount of power, these things sometimes happen.

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Posted

They stole a pack of Crest White Strips from me once...I hope they went to good use though.

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Posted

make sure you don't accuse yourself of anything in your statement as jaycool advised ... leave out the crowded etc. ... that someone actually opens your bag to get something out is theft ... and I also would have not checked my complete bagpack after TSA if anything in it is missing!

well I will now!

state the facts, especially after the TSA: tell them you proceeded to your gate, had the carry-on always with you in sight, were picked up at destination, had the carry on again always with you (on your lap buckled up with you!) ... first thing at destination you open your carry-on and notice that the pouch is stolen.

... that story really sucks by the way ... you have to take of so many items of nowadays passing through TSA and I can feel with you that I would obey every of their orders ... and to hear that you have to stand and look away from your belongings for several minutes! ... I often travel alone/ or alone with my kids, so my stuff would be for sure unsupervised ... so actually that's where I would start the complain!

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Posted

Just spoke to a Philadelphia police officer and filed a theft report. Sadly, he admitted that such thefts do occur there at the PHL airport. He said he couldn't comment on my particular case because he didn't observe the incident, but that there are a few bad individuals in the TSA there as well.

Oh well, I'll never see my jewelry again, nor get any compensation, but at least I've added to the statistics. Unless such thefts are reported, the TSA will continue to be able to sweep the problem under the rug. It was only through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request that the true number of *reported thefts* came to light.

Now I just need to submit the TSA claim. I'll probably meet Elvis before I ever get a response though...

For the record, PHL is actually #8 in the top ten for TSA employee thefts. Note that the numbers are not the number of reported thefts, but rather the number of TSA employees fired for theft. Assuming that not all employees are fired once caught stealing and the number of unreported thefts, one can only guess at the true number of items stolen.)

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Posted

Here are the details, as I'm including them in my TSA claim (not that I expect any compensation, but I want it to be included in the statistics). Please don't be as naive as I was, and assume that all TSA employees are honest. From now on, I'll do the following:

- Take only one or two necklaces and one pair of earrings (AND WEAR THEM)

- Never again blindly obey a TSA order that seems illogical, but rather (keeping my hands in the air) ask the reason for the order

- If traveling with someone else, we will send one person through the body scanner while the other one puts all the items belonging to both persons through the scanner. The first person can then keep an eye on the possessions while the other one gets the full-body scan.

1. Good idea until you have to remove them and place them in the x-ray tray before going thru the metal detector/scanner.

2. Not Obeying a TSA agent.. Good cause for "Enhanced inspection" and cops if you keep it up. Expect to be detained long enough to miss your flight.

(another fun TSA game)

3. They usually won't let 1 person, mess with/touch/open the items of another. They usually also keep people separated. May not always work.

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Posted

Good points, Darkknight, but let me add:

1 - I actually always wear a gold coin on a chain that my mother gave me. I've never had to remove that.

2 - In my case, I got contradictory orders from two TSA agents. Why is it not ok to politely ask if the full-body scanner won't see through a bandana? I guess I could ask to be (fondled) patted down instead :P

3 - Let someone touch someone else's stuff? They're probably too busy appraising the goods to notice :P Seriously, how about if person #1 puts his stuff in the bins and on the conveyor, and then walks through the scanner. Person #2 lets someone go ahead of them (easy to do, just take longer to remove belt or shoes, others are always in a hurry and happy to go ahead), while watching person #1's stuff, then puts stuff on conveyor and goes through. This gives person #1 a chance to keep an eye on person #2's stuff without actually touching it.

Geez! What kind of a world do we live in whereby you need strategies for safeguarding your stuff from the security people??? :(

Let's hear from you frequent travelers - what do you do to safeguard your valuables from TSA thieves?

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Posted

Let's hear from you frequent travelers - what do you do to safeguard your valuables from TSA thieves?

Been a while since I was state side but in most airports in Europe that I go through the security areas are covered in cameras so even if some security person tried a grab it would be caught on camera. I have also noticed that they never touch the stuff once its properly stowed in the bin.

Just my observation.

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Posted

You're right about European security checkpoints MLD. Philly is a whole different world though :-(

MUC: Customs check takes (even with a line) 10-15 mins max.

PHL: Customs check takes (there's always a line) 45-60 mins. The hall is the size of a football field, and the line zig zags back and forth. During the wait you're not allowed to use your cellphone.

MUC: Security checkpoint is (rough estimate) 10 meters long and orderly, with everyone roughly knowing their assigned position

PHL: Security checkpoint is (rough estimate) 20 meters long and chaotic, with some TSA staff staying in their assigned position and the rest wandering around and yelling things at each other.

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Posted

I havent flown to the US for a while, but I flew in soon after 9/11 and frequently for a few years subsequently and it was clear to me that TSA employees are minimum-wage grunts that are trained to do one thing and one thing only. they dont posess the intelligence or the training to deviate one iota from their standard programming so dont try and talk to them, dont try and be nice to them, for gods sake dont make a joke or be hunourous with them. Serious face, single word answers, get past them.

To be fair though, they have some prime examples in Amsterdam too...

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Posted

I take all my stuff off and put it in my backpack before sending it through the scanner (watch, wallet/money, belt, wedding ring, etc.). The only thing I'll take out is my computer, and that goes in its own bin. One bin for shoes/jacket, one for laptop, and backpack. Luckily I've never had an issue.

Oh, and Philly TSA wouldn't let me drink the three ounces of water I mistakenly left in my water bottle that was in my backpack when it went through the x-ray. They escorted me out of security and told me I had to 'dispose' of it before getting back in line. Ridiculous.

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Posted

Interesting. I've often drained my water bottle or water bag, just as I got to the end of the queue. And refill it other side of security. And there is no way I'm giving up an expensive water bag. I've never had problems doing that. On the other hand there have been cases where a mother has been forced to drink some of her child's formula to prove its potable, not a bomb material.

If a TSA officer makes a demand like that so completely and obviously against the rules what happens if you demand to see a supervisor? I have spoken to a supervisor in the UK who upheld the confiscation of my medical ice pack which I was supposed to use multiple times per day. The gel could have been bomb material.

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Posted

What if a TSA officer makes a demand like that so completely and obviously against the rules what happens if you demand to see a supervisor?

Supervisor will always backup the Agent no matter how stupid the request and you will still be screwed, perhaps even more so now that you got

a supervisors attention. BTW, The person you want to talk to is not a "Supervisor", as TSA has made all agents "Supervisors", just for

such reasons.. The "Real Supervisor", is called a "Station Hub Manager".. But good luck trying to make them come out of their office..

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Posted

The day after America dropped the first bombs on Iraq i flew from Florence to San Diego. I always carry a small teddy bear with me which is precious to me as it belonged to my late husband. I had given it to him when he was dying from cancer in London to keep him company. So anyway, 'Brown Bear' went through the X RAY machine after we arrived in SAN presumably to check for drugs or money and he of course had no drugs or money or bombs inside his stuffed little body.

Then this very tall black woman i do not know if she was TSA or customs person with gun and stick and she picks up my bear and begins to pull and tear off his ARMS and I told her STOP DOING THAT TO MY BEAR! She said to me SHUT THE FUCK UP...WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT TO YOU!

THAT was THE END of any positive connection with the United States of America.

That people just bitch about this is disgusting. Ditto with the USA invading any country it feels like it and braiwashes all its citizens to believe any goddamn thing they say as gospel truth. Weapons of mass destruction...funny the ONLY country in the world who has USED WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA...dont you all know this. Does it not bother you that this war has killed around 1 MILLION innocent civilains Why do you find it odd they hate the USA? I mean if someone invaded your country and killed your mother or father your children your husabnd or wife your best friend if the perversions included sodomizing Iraqis and the big smiles of those wonderful Troops who are are worse than any NAZI and you dont mind this?

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Posted

You need to change crack dealers...

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Posted

STOP DOING THAT TO MY BEAR!

SHUT THE FUCK UP...WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT!

post-9625-13848228643141.jpg

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Posted

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/tsa-screener-confession-102912_Page4.html#.Uu-wFz15MgV

'Confessions of an ex-TSA agent'. Well worth a read.

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Posted

I've never opted for the pat-down. I think I'll try it next time.

I'm also thinking: small light-activated video camera/recorder in the lid of the bag, or mounted in a corner at the hinge.

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Posted

Gettin a nice warm wave of schadenfreude over here. Americans turn the US into a kind of kafkaesque prison camp to "protect their liberties" or defeat the nazipaedoterrorists or whoever the latest bogeyman is, then they get all prissy and whiney when the TSA treats them like cattle, fondles their kids and steals their stuff. I love all the tough talk about light activated video cameras and debates on what is just the *right* turn of phrase to use with the TSA to disagree with them while avoiding their wrath. Very funny.

You voted for it, don't complain when you get it. You'd be first in line to disagree with me and tell me how important it is that the state keeps us cosy and safe, so I say eat it up. Eat it right up. Maybe go to McDonald's and forget about it. Mooo!

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Posted

The US is a prison camp? News to me. Anyway the complaints here are not about the rules, but about theft and juvenile behavior by people who are supposed to be professionals. With a bit less managerial incompetence, these issues are fixable.

I sure could go for a Big Mac though ;)

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Posted

It happened to me too in newark airport back in 2004. They stole my watches.

I hate going to the USA solely because of the nasty TSA.

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Posted

You voted for it, don't complain when you get it.

"The People", don't get a chance to vote on anything related to the TSA, This entire security crap was forced down our

throats by the Government. A corrupt govt. that doesn't give a shit what the people think. So before you spout more

BS get the facts straight.

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