• BREAKING NEWS Shelter in place lifted after prisoner captured

Investigation: TSA thefts at NYC airports

January 4, 2011 8:45:21 PM PST
Eyewitness News investigates the alleged theft of passengers' items by TSA agents at New York area airports.

Going through airport security, there's a feeling of vulnerability: no shoes, no belt, and all your valuables placed in a bin, you're rushing to catch a plane.

"He asked me, 'Do you have a lap top?' and I said, 'Yes,' and he put it in the bin," said Maureen Doley, a victim of TSA theft.

Maureen Doley's lap-top disappeared into the x-ray machine, and she never saw it again.

Doley is convinced a TSA agent took it.

"TSA is supposed to make us safe, this is making me frightened," Doley said.

It was the same story last May when an Eyewitness News investigation uncovered dozens of thefts at screening checkpoints at JFK.

Thefts of expensive bracelets worth thousands, high-end watches, even prescription medications.

After the report aired, more people contacted Eyewitness News about TSA checkpoint thefts at New York airports.

Reverend Stanley Michael is convinced a TSA agent at LaGuardia swiped his iPhone.

"Someone at metal detector, no one else available. My wife was in front of me, she didn't take it and the guy behind me [was] 4 feet [away], so he couldn't take it," said Stanley Michael, a victim of TSA theft.

And the Fydell's were going through LaGuardia security on their way to a family vacation in the Caribbean when they claim they became victims of TSA theft.

"I turned around quickly to the TSA worker and asked him, 'My wedding rings, they're not in the bin'," said Jennifer Fydell, a victim of TSA theft.

The Fydell's put in a claim with the TSA for the theft of the $7,500 ring, but the TSA denied the claim.

Eyewitness News has discovered that the vast majority of theft claims are denied by TSA.

For the Fydell's there's no doubt in their minds they got taken by some tricky TSA teamwork.

"They separated her from her belonging and they were distracting her by asking her questions, looking through her bag and I have, my gut instinct tells me, that it was a set up with more than one person involved," said Ian Fydell, a victim of TSA theft.

TSA's own data show that in the last three years, travelers have filed more than 400 claims for property lost or stolen at check points at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports.

But the TSA says overhead surveillance cameras and close supervision help deter theft at checkpoints and that it moves swiftly to end the federal careers of any employee caught stealing."

But Maureen Doley feels no one's really screening the screeners, for how else, she says, can you explain surveillance cameras everywhere but never any video of the thefts.

"They have cameras everywhere, if I didn't take my shoes off I'd probably be in Guantanamo," Doley said.

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com and follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates


Load Comments