Another TSA Employee Arrested

“A Few Bad Apples”

Police have arrested a Transportation Security Administration employee who stole about $50,000 worth of electronics from travelers’ luggage at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Nelson Santiago, 30, of Hollywood, was arrested after an employee with Continental Airlines saw him slip an I-Pad computer out of a suitcase and into his pants on Monday, said Dani Moschella, spokeswoman for Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Every time these stories come out, whether for thefts or child porn, we’re told that the rest of TSA’s employees are great, they’re all thoroughly ‘screened’, and that there are just a few bad apples..

(HT: Alan)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is there a running list of the bad apples in one of the security forums? Would be nice to have such a consolidated list including all the random one-offs, the Hawaii debacle, etc.

  2. Really dont see much of the point of this. this happens in every industry, even the ones that we hold in high regard (police, teachers), and ones that having even more screening and background checks then TSA (i.e. intelligence)

  3. “saw him slip an I-Pad computer out of a suitcase and into his pants on Monday”

    Is that an iPad in your pants, or are you just really happy to see me???

  4. Those few bad apples are going to get the entire TSA put on “DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!”

  5. I agree with Jay. You can’t say that everyone is bad just because a few of the screeners are crooked.

  6. Dan and Jay,

    I agree with what you say, but the TSA as an institution was unable to catch this. It took someone else to witness it. Since this had been going on for sometime, I am sure there was a number of complaints from robbed passengers. You would think a competent organization, with everything on videotape would be able to catch this guy on their own.

  7. It’s a lot harder to catch a guy within the organization then someone outside te organization. That’s why dirty cops are hard to catch… Policing the police is always a challenge. Robert hanssen was able to be a spy within the FBI for decades before he was caught.

    Bad people work in all companies in all industries. It happens

  8. One major reason why this matters: if a private company was still running security at the airport, and one of their employees stole your iPad, you would have recourse: you could take the security company to small claims court, and if you win there, they’d have to pay you for your iPad. In most cases, knowing that they’re likely to lose, they’d just pay you.

    But because the TSA is a government agency, it can and does hide behind the cloak of sovereign immunity to say that, if one of its employees steals an iPad from your bag, tough luck, you have no recourse. Here’s just one example:

    http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-hampshire/nhdce/1:2010cv00016/34795/12/

    It’s bad enough that TSA is hiding behind sovereign immunity to shift the risk of loss from theft from the TSA (which has the ability to spread the cost among many passengers and the ability to monitor and control its own employees) to innocent passengers (who can do neither).

    But the real kicker is this: because the TSA cannot be held liable for employees stealing stuff from your bags, it has no incentive to try to stop employees from stealing stuff from your bags. That’s why nobody’s detecting this stuff even though it’s likely all on videotape. There’s no reason for anybody to actually pay attention.

  9. As someone who was a probable attempted victim of the Hawaii gig, I’m glad to see these incidents posted here – I don’t these posted anywhere else. I about $*&t my pants when I first read about it. A few years ago in Honolulu a was selected for “special screening” at the gate by a gang of TSA agents. When one of them personally grabbed my wallet I pulled it right out from his hand and looked him in the eye and said “you’re not going anywhere with that. If you want to check it out you’re going to do it with me watching you”. He didn’t say a word as I put my wallet back into my pocket.

  10. Of course, the worst part about this is these goofballs are eligible for the highly discounted gov’t rates at my favorite Hyatts!

  11. Now the TSA’s alert is Orange—-for themselves! LOL

    I’ll never forget the day at JFK where I had a new locked suitcase (for Trans-Pacific travel)—the TSA dope behind the temporary wall, which anyone could see between the gaps, slammed [my suitcase] with another suitcase from over his head three times to try and get it open. Fortunately, he did not succeed and my suitcase went through, locked. True story.

    ED

  12. While opinions may vary on the TSA, there’s a unified voice on theft.

    Every large supermarket has video cameras and I can’t imagine why all of the top 100 airports do not have cameras rolling on all areas where luggage is screened, coupled with a library of the last 2 weeks’ videos.

    Fighting terrorists is hard. Routing out thieves working at airports requires only a little effort.

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