A Transportation Security Agent (TSA) convicted of stealing more than $800.000 worth of goods from travelers said this type of theft is “commonplace” among airport security.
Almost 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing from passengers since 2003.
Pythias Brown, a former Transportation Security Administration officer at Newark Liberty International Airport, spent four years stealing everything he could from luggage and security checkpoints, including clothing, laptops, cameras, Nintendo Wiis, video games, and cash.
Speaking publicly for the first time after being released after three years in prison, Brown told ABC News that he used the X-ray scanners to locate the most valuable items to snatch.
“I could tell whether it was cameras or laptops or portable cameras or whatever kind of electronic was in the bag”, he said.
Brown often worked alone, screening luggage behind the ticket counters. He was frequently told the overhead surveillance cameras, installed to prevent theft, were not working.
“It was so easy”, he said. “I walked right out of the checkpoint with a Nintendo Wii in my hand. Nobody said a word”.
With more electronics than any one individual could need, Brown began to sell the stolen items on eBay. At the time of his arrest, he was selling 80 cameras, video games, and computers online. Brown said the theft was comparable to an addiction.
“It was like being on drugs”, he said. “I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ but the next day I was right back at it”.