How Do You Know If A TSA Agent Stole An iPad? There's An App For That

from the gimmie-that dept

While the TSA has already declared themselves this nation's official Humor Police, all while likely profiling based on race, the agency constructed to keep us safe while we fly has another problem to deal with: the thieves that wear the uniform.

ABC News recently conducted an investigation in which they packed travel bags with cash and iPads and took them through security at several major airports, while also going out of their way to leave iPads behind at security checkpoints as well. As the report notes, the bags went through without a problem and most of the iPads were returned per TSA policy. But not all of them.

In case you can't see the video, a TSA agent was taped at work handling the iPad ABC had left behind, and simply decided to take it home with him. When confronted at his home by ABC's Brian Ross, Agent Andy Ramirez denied he had the device until Ross initiated the iCloud application used to track the iPad and its audible alert. Ramirez then produced the iPad and valiantly blamed having it on his wife, who was kind enough to stand next to him and not punch him repeatedly in the testicles on camera.

It may be tempting to simply write this off as the occasional occurrence of bad actors in any sector of any industry, but theft by TSA agents is likely more widespread a problem than you realize. Nearly 400 TSA agents have been fired specifically for theft since 2003. One would expect, of course, that the number of agents fired represents a fraction of those that have actually stolen something.

And to think, they've done all of this thieving without managing to catch a single terrorist.

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Comments on “How Do You Know If A TSA Agent Stole An iPad? There's An App For That”

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Ninja (profile) says:

And to think, they’ve done all of this thieving without managing to catch a single terrorist.

That’s because it’s the FBI who is catching all the terrorists, duh. If it wasn’t for TSA we’d have planes crashing on buildings everyday due to the terrorists (!!!).
Pirate Mike and his syncophants and the usual terrorism apology. You can’t just stop bashing good honest law enforcement officials because all you care about is to freeload on others hard work, right Mike?


– Ad hom [check]
– Miss the point [check]
– Ignore that Mike hasn’t written the article [check]
– Completely ignore facts/live in denial [check]
– Contradictory statements [check]
– Mix completely irrelevant or unrelated subject [check]

I didn’t use the troll word of the month because I honestly don’t know which is it. So I used an old one (syncophants).

Cheers 😉

Rikuo (profile) says:

Oh god…the fact the TSA agent tried to blame it on his wife and then fell silent…beautiful.
Here’s a free lesson, TSA agent, in case you’re reading this. Learn how to think quickly on your feet and come up with a better story. How is it possible for an iPad to go through your security checkpoint and then for it to end up in your wife’s hands, if not through you? She’s not TSA (at least, the video doesn’t mention that).

Violated (profile) says:

He will so be fired.

Still this comes awfully close to entrapment. It is rather naive of people to think they can leave shiny glittery golden much desired objects laying about and that everyone would be honest enough to return them. Sure it is nice to see honesty from your fellow citizens but in such hard economic times objects of value can prove extra temping to some.

Well all TSA agents know the risk and those who steal get fired as he will now be. Then his wife will sure get some revenge even if that is for him losing is job.

Anonymous Coward says:


It’s entrapment if the police do it, depending on the circumstances. When ABC does it, it sure is nasty(!), but it’s reporting. They’re interested in the message, not an individual prosecution.

Naive, it’s not. ABC expected possibly to lose some ipads, that was the point. They have has a budget for it. Lost ipads would just be the cost of doing business.

If you try this trick by yourself, without a really big camera, you could run into trouble. If you do it and then get mad instead of the professionalism of ABC, that is naive.

And finally, we all have the right to live without theft. We can protect ourselves but expect the best from our fellow man. That’s the way to operate with 95% of passengers and 95% of TSA employees. You can feel it correctly most of the time, sometimes you get fooled..

DCX2 says:


I think you could brush up on what entrapment is. Here’s a pretty nice comic.

Essentially, 1) if the police cause you to commit a crime AND 2) you wouldn’t have committed the crime without their incitement, THEN 3) you were entrapped.

See example 5. Giving someone the opportunity to commit a crime is not entrapment. Entrapment only applies if you are overcoming someone’s resistance to committing a crime. A TSA agent who just steals an unattended iPad had no resistance to committing theft in the first place.

And, of course, ABC is not an agent of the police.

Soma (profile) says:

What is bothersome as well is the lack of recourse for the victims of theft at the hands of the TSA. I’m speaking, unfortunately, as one numbered among those. Because I didn’t have a big camera following my luggage, I was stuck on the proverbial 800-line-to-nowhere. I’d argue for more oversight, but I fear that would only expand the ever-growing bureaucracy.

Ninja (profile) says:


Agreed. This should NOT happen specially from professionals that are supposed to keep you safe.

If anything, this experiment helps highlight yet another problem with the TSA.

It is interesting though, here in Brazil there have been cases of theft directly from the bags or disappearance of bags (either involving Federal Police officers or air company employees) and it’s something you don’t see in this specific experiment.

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

Young man, there’s a place you can go
I said young man, when you’re standing in a row
You can stay there and I’m sure you will find
Many ways to see agents who aren’t blind

It’s not fun to ask Y.T.S.A?
It’s not fun to ask Y.T.S.A?
They have everything for young men to enjoy
From cash to ipads and even a kid’s toy

I’m sure the Village People can sing it better than I can.

EXrider says:


I had an 80GB iPod placed inside of a Sonic Impact speaker/display unit stolen from my checked luggage by the TSA in either CVG, ATL or MIA. This was the first and last time I was ever lazy enough to place valuables inside of checked luggage. After filling out numerous forms, faxing, re-faxing and calling to follow up multiple times, Delta pretty much told me to fuck off after wasting my time, I wish they’d told me up front not to even bother trying to seek reimbursement.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


Because I didn’t have a big camera following my luggage, I was stuck on the proverbial 800-line-to-nowhere.

TSA was nice enough to put a digital camera that didn’t belong there into my luggage when I came from Japan back home. I called their 800-line-to-nowhere, and was told that San Fransisco (SFO) was not run by the TSA, but was a contractor, so I needed to call them. I filed reports with both TSA and with the contractor…and have waited almost a year and have heard nothing. All I wanted to do was send the camera back to them so they can return it to its rightful owner, but getting them to give me an address to send it to has been impossible. So it’s sat, waiting for them to tell me what to do with it.

I’d argue for more oversight, but I fear that would only expand the ever-growing bureaucracy.

This is what pissed me off the most about the TSA in the incident above. They told me that the camera could have been introduced to my bag at any time, and likely found its way into my bag in Japan. I laughed because I know that this wasn’t true! When I went through security in Japan, they asked me to follow them to a table, while they opened my luggage (there was something in there they were worried about,) and went through it with me present. Convinced that there was nothing wrong, they placed everything back and then sealed the luggage with a zip-tie. At no time did I see the camera, and I confirmed that when they put everything back, nothing was introduced to the luggage.

When I got home, I opened my bag (which no longer had the zip-tie,) and found a “TSA We Opened Your Bag” note, along with the new camera (and everything else in my luggage.)

TSA says they have to search in private because there are too many articles going through the system, and then they blame the Japanese for introducing an item to my luggage when the Japanese search the luggage in open, with the person who brought the luggage present during the search. Which system is open to theft? Let me guess.

I wish they would change their procedures and make the system open and transparent like the Japanese (and the Germans, and probably everywhere else in the world,) but I suspect they want the system to work the way it is working.

jeneaston (profile) says:

What's next ABC, leaving iPads at the bus station?

Trust me I’m no fan of the TSA (when I travel I always keep my electronics close by).

And I appreciate ABC bringing attention to this, but I can’t shake wondering what percentage of workers would return a “lost” iPad in other industries.

Bus/train stations?
Car rental?

I think this speaks more about our culture than it does about the TSA. They left an expensive electronic device in a busy location. Personally if I left my iPad in a busy location I would be surprised if I got it back.

Darkpriest667 (profile) says:

Stealing an ipad?

Who,in their right mind, would steal an apple product? Of course this is the TSA, I’m inclined to believe most of their employees are not in their right minds.

There is a solution to this problem. The same solution for a lot of industries. Fire 70% of them raise their wage to a professional level of wages and have a more stringent hiring process. But thats an actual solution. This is not something that the media has ever offered. I mean real solutions not these talking point solutions.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


Call the police, not Delta.

It is doubtful the police could do anything beyond writing a report (and they are often so busy that it may take a while to get a police officer to show up and take the report.) However, at least that way you could get insurance to pay for the replacement (though doubtful since an ipod is likely under the deductible.)

Unfortunately, the only place that will be of much effect is Delta, who may just pay you for the ipod just to keep you from making a big deal of it (then again, Delta isn’t well known for their customer support anyway.)

Bill Fisher (profile) says:

TSA Theft

So did any of the folks who were robbed of this $800,000 total get reimbursed by him or TSA? I doubt it. TSA likely denied responsibility for the thefts and they victims were out of luck after being robbed by their own government.

Everyone who flies regularly has had something stolen from a checked or carry bag. I have had belongings stolen six times, twice at the checkpoint and four from checked bags. Whenever something was stolen from checked luggage there was a TSA inspection slip inside as if they were bragging that they robbed and defying me to stop them. I filed six claims and all six were denied. The airlines refused payment saying that TSA had control of the bags.

I traveled just as much for fifteen years prior to TSA?s creation and never had anything taken. They don?t do proper background checks and don?t care.

Last week a TSA screener at Ft. Lauderdale airport, Andrew Smeal, was arrested for child pornography. He had been hired by TSA a month earlier even though he was under investigation by the FBI.

Much of the media has been pandering to TSA, repeating their propaganda and excusing the agency despite repeated incidents of smuggling drugs and guns, nearly a hundred criminal arrests and exposing over a dozen pedophile TSA screeners. The media that ignores these failures are promotes TSA propaganda is slowing reform of this failed agency and making air travel less secure.

TSA has become a jobs program for misfits who can’t get hired anywhere else and crime is rampant within the agency. Does anyone really feel safer having people who will rub stranger?s genitals in public every day for $15 an hour and stealing from passengers in charge of security?

TSA costs taxpayers $8 billion a year and we can?t afford to pay public employees to commit crimes and endanger air travel.

hmm (profile) says:


Oh god you freeloading pirates make me sick…firstly you want free music (just because someone wrote it several hundred years ago and isn’t likely to make more / because the original author WANTED it to be public domain)..

And now (FOR FREE I might add) you want your own stuff that you bought and paid for, and you want (again for free) the ability to not have to worry about TSA people stealing anything they can pawn for crack….

Whats next? You’ll be wanting FREEdom of speech or something…..

Jeez….[insert frothing at the mouth / freetard comment here]


G. Cooper says:

Tsa stored my iPod, 64G, touch $400.00

I was told at airport I flew into by a TSA agent to make a claim that they can view the video and that was how they were catching their agents stealing. Made all kinds if police report (MEM) per Apple’s instruction, CLAIM DENIED, THEY NEVER LOOKED AT THE VIDEO. Instructed me to take it to US District Court. Like I have another $400.00 to lose!!! Asked for a re-review and said they would assign my case to another agent.
I need the address of Director of TSA so I can write to.
After all, we pay there salaries.

May says:

Common Sense

It’s just common sense to not leave valuables in your checked luggage. Yeah, it’s horrible that the TSA can’t be trusted to not steal you stuff, but if something is really valuable to you, you keep it in your carry-on. Even if it wasn’t the TSA, it would probably just be someone else since you’re not allowed to put a lock on your checked luggage. It’s a shame, but that’s how society is. It’s difficult to get by and people are desperate.

iMan9796 says:

This same disgusting thievery is commonplace at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC when it comes to lost & found property. The pubic must be aware of the crimes that are being committed against them when their lost property is stolen from the PABT’s Lost & Found Dept. by Port Authority Bus Terminal Supervisors. Google ?Donna Lebourne abc news.” & watch the video, or click on the link below.

If you lost an item at the PABT & it was returned to you, put in a theft report with the PAPD to get your lost item replaced because most likely your item was stolen by PABT management.

It would be nice to see the Port Authority aggressively go after the criminals and their enablers that they employ who engage in these same disgraceful crimes and even worse criminal acts, i.e. the unconscionable and highly illegally procedure of throwing lost passports found at the PABT in the garbage in this age of global terrorism and rampant identity theft. Google ?found, stolen, trashed by PA.? See the link below.

No one should be above the law no matter who they work for.

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