TSA Agent Busted for Stealing iPad

2 Oct 2012

TSA agents should think twice about stealing items left behind at the security checkpoints; someone — or something —  might be tracking their whereabouts.

Thanks to GPS tracking technology, a TSA agent was fired from his job at the Orlando International Airport (MCO) after stealing an iPad left behind.

In a sting operation to test the honesty of TSA agents, an ABC News team representative left an iPad behind on purpose. The news representative went through the security checkpoint, deliberately leaving the $600 device.

Due to a recent rise in thefts by airport employees, 10 iPads were intentionally left at security checkpoints at 10 different airports, as part of the sting operation. The airports chosen were the top 10 airports in the country with the highest theft rate. One of the airports was Orlando International Airport,  much to the dismay of TSA agent, Andy Ramirez, who is no longer employed at MCO.

Each iPad left behind by ABC News at airports had GPS tracking software installed, as well as the name and phone number of the owner clearly printed on the case. This would have made it easy for the owner to be contacted  — and for the TSA agents to follow proper protocol.

But thanks to GPS tracking software installed on the devices, the theft of one iPad was tracked to the home of TSA Agent Andy Ramirez, 30 miles from the Orlando International Airport.

After a 15 day wait period, the ABC News team went to Ramirez’s home for a confrontation. The news team began questioning Ramirez, but Ramirez denied taking the Apple device.  However, minutes later, when the news team set off the device’s alarm, it was clear that the iPad was in Ramirez’s home. Ramirez blamed the theft on his wife — and Ramirez’s wife admitted to taking the iPad, but Andy was caught on videotape at the airport handling the device last. Ramirez was fired from his job as a TSA agent shortly after the confrontation with ABC news.

Between 2003 and 2012, 381 TSA agents were fired after allegedly stealing items left behind at airport security checkpoints.

The US Transportation Security Admission has a strict policy that all  belongings left behind should be reported immediately so that the owner can be contacted.  In fact, according to the agency, they have “a zero-tolerance policy for theft and terminates any employee who is determined to have stolen from a passenger.” However, airport authorities found that many TSA agents were not following protocol and keeping items forgotten by travelers for themselves. That’s why ABC News stepped in to put a stop to the growing problem.

The successful GPS tracking of the expensive tablet was used in conjunction with an iPad application called “Find my iPad.” This app lets the owner of the device track their iPad from another device, view its location in real-time on a map, password-protecting the device, and wipe the files.

“It’s great technology to have that tracking option on,” Chief Police John Dailey of Duke University in North Carolina told reporters, who recently used the app to track down a string of thefts happening on and off campus.

There is good news in this story though: Nine of the ten iPads left behind in the sting operation were returned to their owners.

Watch the ABC News report video here:

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