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TSA Has Zero Tolerance on Theft - iPad Theft

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Friday, September 28, 2012
ipad

ABC ran a story yesterday on how an iPad left behind at one of our airports was tracked via GPS to an Officer’s home two weeks later. The Officer is no longer with TSA.

We are well too aware of how the actions of a few can influence the perception the public has of our agency. It’s truly a shame, because the majority of our workforce meets the expectations set forth to them - integrity, professionalism and hard work. The reputation of TSA is adversely affected by instances like this one, where employees do not display integrity.

To put theft at TSA in perspective, between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 381 TSOs have been terminated for theft, which represents less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency. This extremely small percentage does not reflect the dedication and professionalism of our workforce as a whole.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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Comments

Submitted by Russell on

"...between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 381 TSOs have been terminated for theft,... (0.4%) of officers... "

These are only the ones who got caught.

Submitted by Eric on

half of one percent? Did you watch the video!? Put two and two together and you will realize you aren't firing enough!

Submitted by Anonymous on

And yet, when you insist on keeping an eye on your carryon while being "special screened" the TSA officers get an attitude about it.

Submitted by RB on

Between May 1, 2003 and September 2012 hundreds 100,s) of millions of people have traveled by air and TSA has not found one terrorist yet ABC found a TSA thief in just 10 tries. Kinda disputes your numbers, eh?

What's the percentage on "TSA Found
Terrorist" Bob?

And as they say one bad apple rots the whole barrel and TSA's barrel is so rotten it stinks!

Submitted by Chip And Andy on

ZOMG! A post with actual information! And information that is relevant to the topic!

1 - Report of theft....
2 - Investigation....
3 - "The Officer is no longer with TSA."

Thank you Blogger Bob! We were beginning to think it was impossible for you to post anything that was actually factual about your organization.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To put terrorism in perspective, between 2001 and 2012, a total of 19 passengers have successfully attacked American planes, which represents roughly 0.0000002% of all passengers who have traversed US airport checkpoints. This extremely small percentage does not reflect the peacefulness of the flying public as a whole.

Yet TSOs continue to treat every passenger as a potential terrorist, and you, Bob, continue to treat each knife discovered as though it were a threat to this nation's very existence.

Therefore, I shall continue to treat each TSO I encounter as a potential thief.

Let me add as well that your agency's employees all undergo background checks before being hired, and your agency employs hundreds of BDOs who are supposed to be able to ferret out ill-intent among passengers.

If you cannot keep your own employees in line, why should we have any faith in your agency's ability to secure the nation's airspace?

Sorry, Bob, you cannot have it both ways.

I also suggest you read some of the comments here --

https://www.facebook.com/YourTsaExperiences

It sure seems like a lot of passengers are running into these few bad apples that exist in the agency.

[Screenshot captured.]

Submitted by Rich Roth on

I agree, as a former USSS employee, and a criminologist at heart, in any large group there will be a few bad apples.

TSA to date seems to have done the only thing an agency can do, and that is to remove the bad apples as they are found. I do worry about how the Union contract will effect this policy.

Rich Roth

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, that's not a small percentage. That's what, one in about 200 agents are fired for theft? I'm an airline pilot, we have 3000 pilots at my airline, I've never heard of any ever being fired for stealing. Just saying, your analogy that it's an extremely low percentage of crooks working on the front lines at TSA because only one in two hundred have been fired (who knows how many have not been caught?) is not really the route I would have gone if I were you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To put terrorism by Americans at U.S. airports in perspective, between the founding of the TSA (and even before)through September 2012, a total of 0 American terrorists have attempted an attack on an airplane, which represents zero percent (0.0%) of Americans traversing the checkpoint. Despite this, the TSA does not understand that this extremely small percentage does not reflect on the innocence of the traveling public as a whole, and continues to violate us, day in and day out.

We're infinitely more likely to be harmed by the TSA than a terrorist.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You know what Bob, until TSA puts tags on TSOs to identify which are bad and which are good I'll consider all TSOs as criminals who wear a uniform. I feel this is only fair because every TSO I have ever had the misfortune to deal with has treated me as if I were a criminal and has shown nothing but disrespect and aggorance toward me. How does it go....What's good for the goose is good for the gander.......

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow. So over 100 people a month are terminated for theft. If your success rate of capturing TSA theives is as bad as your success rate for catching terrorists then that mean there are 100s and 100s more that are still stealing our property. I travel a lot and it's almost impossible to get the TSA agent to keep my bags visible during a screening. They force you to stand out of the way and wait.

Submitted by Anonymous on

With all due respect to the relative low numbers of TSA officers terminated for theft, this number should be compared to other police agencies. For example, how many police officers (and related percentage), say in the state of Ohio have been terminated for theft in the same period?

Submitted by David Hundley on

With all due respect to the relative low numbers of TSA officers terminated for theft, this number should be compared to other police agencies. For example, how many police officers (and related percentage), say in the state of Ohio have been terminated for theft in the same period?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Amazing how selectively you use numbers when it covers your own hindquarters, but not when it would benefit passengers or expose the pointlessness of your screening methods. For instance, 0% of shoes you've x-rayed since 2006 have contained explosives, and 0% of the liquids you've forced people to dispose of have been dangerous, and 0% of your invasive and untested and dangerous body scanners have found genuine threats to aviation.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"To put theft at TSA in perspective, between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 381 TSOs have been terminated for theft, which represents less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency."

As others have pointed out, a vastly higher percentage than the percentage of passengers who are terrorists.

Submitted by Anonymous on

381 is the number fired for theft. That percentage jumps significantly higher when you include the total number fired for ALL types of criminmal conduct such as sex crimes, smuggling, assault, DUI and the list goes on. The TSA knows this and undoubtedly left that real percentage out when Bob posted this article. Should you (the TSA) tell the public what that percentage is? Or should the public urge ABC news to post it in a follow-up story?

Submitted by Randy on

Bob,

Thank you for the timely response to the thefts! It doesn't go unnoticed.

Randy -- noimnotashill

Submitted by Anonymous on

Huh, couldn't post this after the "things we would have caught with metal detectors" post so it would show up first, huh?

I'm sure some TSA employees are honest, but based upon ABC's http://www.facebook.com/YourTsaExperiences, there are many TSA workers who mistreat and steal from American citizens.

How is the TSA dealing with them?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Your whole agency exists because of small percentages. To be specific, the infinitesimally small percentage that an airplane will be the target of a terrorist attack.

You cannot dismiss the "small" percent of thieving screeners (that have been caught) while groping and scanning the traveling public based on the significantly smaller likelihood that they would do harm.

In short, do you believe that a group should be treated a certain way due to the actions of a few?

(I do not truly expect you to answer this. You never answer difficult questions)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, it is irrelevant that the TSA has a zero-tolerance policy towards thefts. Nearly 400 TSOs have been charged with theft and dismissed, and we do not know how many more have actually stolen items but have not been caught.

What steps has the TSA put in place to assure travelers that there are no more thieves among the TSA ranks? Are TSOs and their belongings screened when they show up for work and when they leave?

Without such assurances, a mere statement of "zero-tolerance" will not put an end to the belief that any TSO a passenger encounters is potentially a thief looking for personal gain more than looking out for passengers' well-being.

Of course, Bob, we all know you will not divulge such details, and the hatred more and more Americans are feeling towards your agency will continue to magnify as the months go on.

Have a nice weekend.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"This extremely small percentage does not reflect the dedication and professionalism of our workforce as a whole." - Bob
Of course it doesn't, since only a small percentage of your TSOs (perhaps 1/2 of one percent) are actually dedicated and professional.

Submitted by Roger B on

Zero tolerance policy on theft yes! But 381 employees have been terminated. And that's less than half of 1% but that's still far too many for a government represented agency!!! Especially one with the word 'Security' in their name! And sporting law enforcement badges!! I took the test way back when there was a national hiring order for the dept. and scored high enough to be a TSA supervisor, yet my domestic violence conviction that was expunged still disqualified me! So, I have no mercy for the criminals found working for us and disguised as govt. workers!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob said:
"To put theft at TSA in perspective, between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 381 TSOs have been terminated for theft, which represents less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency."


Yes - but you realize that those are only the people that have been caught, right? What percentage of TSA agents are actively involved in theft on a daily basis? The one caught by ABC news would never have been caught had it not been for ABC news.

Submitted by Statistics_Medic on

Curtis

So what your admitting to is now that we have a data point that shows that TSA endangers the public more then the "terrorist attack threat".

.4% is alot statistically higher then the risk of a dies in a plane crash as a result of an act of terrorism which is in the range of 1 in a Centillion (thats 303 zeros after the one).

Thanks curtis for clearing up what most people already know.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Dear Robert:
I note with interest your interest in statistics of TSA thieves. I note also of the millions of commercial air travelers in the United States screened by your agency and at least 380 some thieves employed or formerly employed by your agency. This far surpasses the number of would be terrorists/hijackers and neer-do-wells (at best estimate number less than a dozen in tens of millions) that would like to create mischief on an airplane, and that threat largely eliminated by reinforced cockpit doors.

Disband your agency and return aircraft/airline security responsibility to the airlines where it rightfully belongs.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I formerly worked for TSA at a small airport(San Luis Obispo Airport) and luckily, I worked with a group of honest hard working individuals. Sad that a few bad apples can ruin a reputation of a great deal of people.

Submitted by Anonymous on

OK, the TSO is no longer employed. Has he been arrested and charged with theft?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Congressman John Mica thinks this is going to get better by going private and paying employees $10.00 an hour? Give me a break.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let's put a little perspective on that 0.4% number of TSA thieves who have been caught and fired. (Keep in mind that this is only the number of TSA employees who have been caught AND fired.) Now let's imagine if this was the same rate for neer-do-wells... TSA claims that they have screened over 6,000,000,000 passengers (6 billion) since inception until sometime earlier this year. At the same 0.4% being claimed as something that should be dismissed regarding TSA employees, it would equate to more than 24,000,000 neer-do-wells (24 million). The bad part is that reality tells us that this number is much smaller - and, likely, could be counted on one hand and that's with giving credit to TSA for stops they had nothing to do with (think shoe; underwear). This percentage of passengers would be roughly about 0.0000000333%, many orders of magnitude below the rate of TSA thieves fired for theft.

Simply knowing that, it's hard for me to be too concerned that all of TSA is cast in the same light as who have been those caught - especially since TSA sees all passengers as potential neer-do-wells despite that the odds are significantly less than the odds that a TSA employee would be a thief.

Even if we presume that everyone caught bringing a gun has 'evil' intent, and estimating on the high side - saying roughly 40 guns are found on average each week for a simplified 11 years (40*52*11 = 22880 / 6,000,000,000) is still only 0.0004%. -- three (3) orders of magnitude less than a TSA employee has been fired for theft. Based on that, it would appear that you are roughly 1000 times more likely to have a TSA employee steal from you, get caught, and then fired for that offense than they are to find a gun on a passenger at the checkpoint

Submitted by Sandra on

"To put theft at TSA in perspective, between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 381 TSOs have been terminated for theft, which represents less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency."

Those are just the ones that have been caught, Bob.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

Every government agency has some employees that don't follow the rules. Stealing, abuse, even espionage are commonplace in government service. Why target TSA.

At least TSA moves offenders out.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let's revise a few words and swap passengers and TSA in the post...

We are well too aware of how the actions of a few can influence the perception that TSA has of the public. It’s truly a shame, because the majority of passengers meet the expectations set forth to them - integrity, professionalism and just wanting to get to their destination. The reputation of passengers are adversely affected by instances like the underwear and shoe bombers, where those specific passengers did not display integrity.

To put terroristic activity among passengers in perspective, between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 2 passengers have been incarcerated for terroristic-type activity, which represents less than 1/2 of one hundred millionth percent (0.0000000333%) of passengers that have been administratively searched by the TSA. This extremely small percentage does not reflect the dedication and professionalism of all passengers as a whole.

...

When TSA starts treating all passengers with the respect that they are due, then perhaps the passengers will respond in kind.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Integrity problem? Oh, yes. The TSA has an integrity problem since it only takes one "somebody screwed up" to erase a thousand "good work" awards. Yet these "somebody screwed up" stories keep appearing. I don't think that cleaning house would help.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Half of one percent is a very high portion.

That also means that if I fly every few weeks, I can expect one of those officers to screen me or my bags at least once a year, and presumably steal from me too.

It also doesn't include the portion of your workforce who have been merely warned or "retrained" for theft.

Finally, I'd point out that your agency makes it nearly impossible to report theft by a TSO and ignores the reports it gets.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I hope each and every thief was tried, convicted and sent to prison. Still, 0.4 per cent of employees being caught stealing isn't high -- in my experience as a banking compliance officer the rate was much higher in the banking industry. It doesn't help that the bonding companies don't always perform a criminal background check before insuring employees for theft anymore (we started performing our own criminal background checks at one credit union I worked for after finding that out the hard way). The rate could always be better but at the TSA rate of thievery your background check system sounds like it is actually working quite well.

Submitted by Arun on

381 thefts? Yikes, that's actually quite a bit! I wonder how that compares to the number of thefts done by private airport security pre-9/11?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said....
"To put theft at TSA in perspective, between May 1, 2003 through September 2012, a total of 381 TSOs have been terminated for theft, which represents less than 1/2 of one percent (0.4%) of officers that have been employed by the agency. "

Or, to put it another way, in just 5 months 0.4% of their screeners were fired for theft.

Now, let's leave aside the fact that that's just the ones they A)caught and B)actually fired (instead of, for instance, 'transferred' or 'retrained'). (When this is taken into account, the actual number of TSA thieves could be significantly higher.)

The TSA has been around for 11 years- or about 132 months. Now, assuming 0.4% of their screeners are fired every 5 months, then 10.56% (One Tenth!) of their screeners would have been fired since they came into existence.

Funny thing- that number (one tenth) is just how many iPads were stolen- 1 out of 10.

Bob- having 1 out of every 10 employees be fired for theft is NOT a record to be proud of.

Submitted by Ltsolady on

As a LTSO in Denver, CO DIA, I am greatly sadden to read of theft and I feel even with less than 1/2 of one percent is still to high. Although I do understand that is an extremely low percentage, myself and fellow team mates would like to see a zero percentage. Our face is out front we see the passengers everyday and work very hard to earn their respect! I have work out here for TSA for almost 10 years trying to teach my fellow employees to get respect, kindness and dignity you must give respect, kindness and dignity. Another thing I have told fellow TSA team mate and passengers alike, "If someone does not have a smile give them yours". I always have a smile on my face when I great a passenger and welcome them to our checkpoint.

Submitted by Ltsolady on

Well said, I currently work for TSA almost 10 years. I do the work I do to honor my son who could not finish his service to our fine Country when he was murdered and to also honor all those who died on 9/11/01.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, let's assume that 0.4% of current TSOs are potential thieves, based on past performance.

That means that of the roughly two million passengers the TSA screens each day, 8,000 will have their persons and belongings searched by screeners who are more interested in stealing from them than in ensuring their safety. Or put another way, that's around 50 passengers daily at each major airport. Let's put it this way then: at every major airport nationwide, around three passengers per hour will be screened by a TSO who is more interested in theft than in doing his or her job.

That's 8,000 potential breaches because a TSO is not fully focused on their task at hand, keeping weapons off of planes.

0.4% doesn't seem so extremely small now, huh, Bob?

Numbers and statistics are wondrous things, aren't they?

[Screenshot captured.]

Submitted by Ltsolady on

I work for TSA and have always greeted passengers with a smile, treated passengers with respect, kindness and dignity. Many who fly through Denver, CO know me by name and look for me just to say hi. I have always told passengers to have a wonderful or lovely day with a smile on my face and I mean it. I learned from my mother who died of cancer this quote "If someone does not have a smile give them yours". If she could do it and mean it with cancer, I can do a it and mean it everyday of my life to honor her! The best part of it all is I make people smile.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am so sorry to hear everyone talk negatively about TSA. Every where you go have bad people. However, TSA is not the only people who handle your bags at the airport, but TSA gets the blame for everything.
Passengers steal from each other. There were complains about airline crew picking things up that was not theres, Ops that was not stealing, they mistakenly took it up and never returned it until they were asked.
What will be the difference between TSA and a private security company? You and your belongs will still be screened, in the same manner since there are guidelines that must be followed. Will the private company not have bad workers?
Would you preferr to just get on a plane without being screened?
Lets be fear we all have done something wrong in our life? NOBODY IS PERFECT...

Submitted by RB on

Rich Roth said...
I agree, as a former USSS employee, and a criminologist at heart, in any large group there will be a few bad apples.

TSA to date seems to have done the only thing an agency can do, and that is to remove the bad apples as they are found. I do worry about how the Union contract will effect this policy.

Rich Roth

September 28, 2012 4:39 PM

.........................
You really think all TSA can do is to remove the TSA Thieves after they are found?

How about more on-site supervision?

How about screening all airport workers (including TSA) as they enter a work area and again before they depart?

How about effective investigations of passenger filed reports of theft?

Perhaps being a touch proactive instead of just reactive by better help TSA serve the public.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The 400 fired were only the ones who were caught red-handed, not all the screeners ones who robbed passengers. No doubt that thousands remain employed waiting to steal your property.

If TSA was really concerned about theft and abuse, they would not ignore customer complaints and send form letters blaming the passenger when they are robbed. Instead, TSA recites same old lies and “highest standards” baloney after every incident and wait for the issue to blow over while allowing the problem to persist.

For people who travel once a month, that is 24 trips through security. At a one out of ten theft rate, as happened here, they would have their property stolen twice every year.

It is unacceptable for TSA or another other organization to remain unaccountable and treat those who pay for it with contempt.

TSA needs to be replaced with a responsible organization focused on protecting the public instead of preying on them.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
This is making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

Every government agency has some employees that don't follow the rules. Stealing, abuse, even espionage are commonplace in government service. Why target TSA.

At least TSA moves offenders out.

September 28, 2012 8:14 PM

..........................

TSA at Richmond VA hired a known felon. That doesn't seem to be "TSA moves offenders out" but TSA hiring known thieves and felons.

This is hardly making a mountain out of a molehill.

It only took 10 tries to find a TSA thief. That suggest the problem is much larger than what TSA is willing to own up to and some aggressive action is called for to address this issue. The first step would be to get a TSA Administrator that has a touch of leadership ability. It is clear that John Pistole has failed as TSA Administrator.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Integrity problem? Oh, yes. The TSA has an integrity problem since it only takes one "somebody screwed up" to erase a thousand "good work" awards. Yet these "somebody screwed up" stories keep appearing. I don't think that cleaning house would help.


September 28, 2012 8:46 PM

Reports of TSA screw ups are typically answered with the stock "proper procedures were followed" response from TSA.

That answer does not earn much respect for TSA.

Submitted by RB on
Convicted TSA Officer Reveals Secrets of Thefts at Airports

"It was very commonplace, very," said Pythias Brown, a former TSA officer at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey who admits he stole more than $800,000 worth of items from luggage and security checkpoints over a four-year period.

"It was very convenient to steal," he said.


I don't think the percentage TSA posted fully addresses the scope of the TSA Theft problem.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
iOr, to put it another way, in just 5 months 0.4% of their screeners were fired for theft. /i

Unlike the TSA, I admit my mistakes.

I misread the year, and thought it was 380+ firings from this year May, not May, 2003. Thus my figures were incorrect.

However, my point (which others have pointed out too) about this being just the ones who were caught and fired for theft still stands.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You really need to do more research. What about all of the guns,knifes, explosives, grenades both live and inert, and let's not forget about the drugs and smuggling of both people and contraband. The tsa is not just about finding terrorists it is about providing security for the traveling public. But let me guess you are one of those people who say there are no american terrorists also? And for that I have to say pick up a paper or something, do the research before you talk.

Submitted by Anonymous on

All I know is that I'm far more likely to get my stuff stolen by the TSA than be killed by a terrorist. I guess I need to treat each TSA screener as if they are a thief. After all, they treat me as if I'm a terrorist. The odds are much better that I will run into a TSA thief before I run into a terrorist.

I see this iPad theft occured at MCO. This is the same airport that missed a gun a woman was carrying. Is the TSA too distracted looking for things to steal or looking out getting caught by ABC to find weapons at that airport?

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