A former TSA agent who spent three years in prison for stealing from passengers’ luggage says the practice is “commonplace.”
Pythias Brown admits to stealing more than $800,000 worth of cash, clothing and electronics over a four-year period at Newark Liberty International Airport. He was finally caught trying to sell a stolen CNN camera on eBay.
“It became so easy, I got complacent,” Brown told ABC News.
Though Brown says he might have been one of the biggest thieves at the Transportation Security Administration, he believes the agency has a culture of entitlement—and of looking the other way.
“It was so easy. One day I walked out of there with the video game, the Nintendo Wii. I walked right out of the checkpoint with the Nintendo Wii in my hand,” he said.
Nearly 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing since 2003, according to the agency, which is charged with providing security for passengers and freight.
But Brown says the fired TSA officers might be the tip of the iceberg.
Theft “was very commonplace. Very,” he said.
He said most of the valuable items are taken out of carry-on bags that pass through screenings and X-ray machines while their owners make their way through security checkpoints and metal detectors.