Detailed extensively in an investigative sting operation conducted by ABC News, an Florida-based TSA agent named Andy Ramirez was caught with a iPad stolen from the security line at the Orlando International Airport. In an attempt to test the honesty of TSA agents at ten major airports around the United States, ABC News representatives “accidentally” left their iPad at the security checkpoint. Each iPad had a case that displayed the owner’s name and phone number. At nine of the ten airports, TSA agents correctly followed procedure and contacted the owner of the tablet. In addition, ABC News representatives tested sending checked bags containing cash and an iPad through security, but nothing was stolen from any suitcase at all ten airports.
Regarding the iPad that went missing, ABC News secretly filmed Ramirez handling the iPad at the security checkpoint. Two hours later, representatives used Apple’s Find My iPad application to track the location of the expensive tablet to Ramirez’s home.
Over two weeks later, ABC News sent reporter Brian Ross and a camera crew to Ramirez’s home. Catching Ramirez outside in his TSA uniform, Ross introduced himself and asked Ramirez about the missing iPad. Despite showing Ramirez the current GPS location of the iPad on another tablet, Ramirez denied that the iPad was located within his home.
Ross then used the Find My iPad sound feature that overrides the volume or silent setting on the tablet to activate a loud alarm. After hearing the tablet inside the home, Ramirez retrieved the iPad and blamed his wife for stealing the tablet. Ramirez said “My wife said she got the iPad and brought it home.” Ross disputed his claim by bringing up the footage taken at the security checkpoint, but Ramirez refused to answer any more questions and closed the door.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Ramirez was no longer employed by the Transportation Security Administration. Regarding the incident, a TSA representative stated that the organization has “a zero-tolerance policy for theft and terminates any employee who is determined to have stolen from a passenger.”
However, this isn’t the first time that a TSA agent has been busted for stealing electronics or other valuables from passenger luggage. In a similar case during February 2012, police at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport arrested 31-year-old Clayton Keith Dovel after using Find My iPad tracking to locate eight stolen iPads at Dovel’s home. Dovel was a TSA baggage inspector at the Dallas airport.
Also during February 2012, a 31-year-old, New York based TSA agent named Alexandra Schmid was arrested for stealing $5,000 in cash from a passenger’s jacket. After wrapping the cash within a plastic glove, Schmid was filmed taking the money into a bathroom to pass it off to an unknown person. Shortly after the incident Schmid was arrested for grand larceny. During July 2011, TSA agent Nelson Santiago-Serrano at another Florida airport was arrested after authorities discovered an iPad shoved into his pants. His arrest led to the discovery of $50,000 dollars of additional stolen electronics during his employment period with the TSA.