New Jersey authorities are alleging that a Transportation Security Administration baggage screener “has been swiping electronic equipment from luggage of the passengers he was supposed to protect. A laptop here, a cell phone there. Within months, he had snatched more than 100 items,” according to the Newark Star-Ledger. The privacy implications of such thefts are clear.
This is not an isolated incident. On TSA’s blog, Evolution of Security, the agency says, “Since May 1, 2003, less than 500* officers have been terminated for theft, which represents less than 1/2 of one percent of all officers. Unfortunately, this tiny fraction of officers causes damage that is hard to repair.”
The “damage that is hard to repair” that TSA mentions concerns the reputation of the agency and its noncriminal employees. However, there is a glaring security problem not addressed by the agency. TSA employees who are able to steal from baggage also have the power to add contraband or weapons to an individual’s luggage. The employee could be part of a criminal plot or carrying out a personal vendetta against someone. It would be difficult for a person to argue that the guns or drugs found in her bag did not belong to her.