By Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
According to a recent report in Broward - Palm Beach New Times, 30-year-old Nelson Santiago, a former TSA worker, stole at least $50,000 worth of electronics from passengers at Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport's Terminal 1 within the last six months, including a traveler's iPad that he shoved down his pants during a routine screening.
So while innocent airline travelers were busy being herded through naked body scanners and physically violated by other government workers who were grabbing their private parts, Santiago was rummaging through their luggage and snagging whatever appeared to be of high value.
His spoils included laptop computers, GPS devices, video cameras, and a slew of other high-dollar electronics -- and this time when he was actually caught, it was an iPad that he literally swiped from a bag and tried to hide in his pants.
Reports indicate that Santiago often sold the items to buyers online before he had even finished his TSA shift at the airport for the day. But this time, he was caught red-handed with his loot, and was subsequently fired from his TSA position. He was also arrested and later released on a $4,000 bond where he awaits potential further charges.
TSA officials claim the incident is isolated, and that it has a "zero tolerance for theft." But if this is true, why did the agency fail to address the countless other thefts committed by Santiago in the months prior to the iPad incident?
Surely the passengers from whom he stole at least $50,000 worth of electronics from reported their losses to police and to the agency -- upon which they were likely told that authorities would "look into the situation."
In truth, the only reason it appears Santiago was held responsible for his crimes is because he was actually caught doing it this time. His many other thefts, which took place behind the cloak of TSA's "advanced" security protocols, were never properly addressed, and they likely never would have been were it not for Santiago's idiocy in the iPad stunt.
The real danger when flying is having to deal with the TSA and its screening methods. Not only do air travelers have to worry about deadly radiation being blasted at them from the naked body scanners, as well as the probing and prodding fingers of agents violating their personal privacy and freedom during pat downs, but now they have to worry about getting robbed.
Since December 2010, roughly 10 TSA screeners have been arrested for property theft, while numerous others have been arrested for serious crimes like possessing child pornography, trafficking drugs, and even assaulting passengers.