Former TSA officer Pythias Brown says it was an “addiction.” This writer calls it greed. Brown has been accused by the New York Transport Security Agency security office of stealing almost $1 million worth of belongings from travelers. Brown’s calculations are little less. He believes the figure is more like $800,000 over a course of four years.
Not going down in the hall of shame alone, the former Newark Airport employee told ABC News he was one of many who were stealing and the epidemic of thefts from aircraft baggage is “commonplace” in a “culture” of indifference resulting from poor morale and low pay. In the last nine years, 381 TSA officers have been fired for stealing from passengers — 11 of those were let go this year.
How did he get caught?
Brown was caught red-handed on eBay, trying to sell a CNN producer’s camera bearing the network’s identifying stickers.
In 2009, Brown was sentenced to three years in prison and at the time had an inventory of 80 cameras, video games and computers on an auction site. Upon his release, he revealed he often worked alone when assigned to screen luggage behind ticket counters. Having a keen eye for valuables scanned by X-ray machines, he was kept abreast when overhead surveillance cameras weren’t in working order. A former employee would also tell him when to chill because bosses were on to the scheme.
TSA denies that the problem is widespread and confirm they have “a zero-tolerance policy for theft and [will] terminate any employee who is determined to have stolen from a passenger.”