A number of years ago, a TSA agent named Pythias Brown accidentally left a camera out of some luggage he was screening. Not wanting to be reprimanded for his mistake, he decided to avoid any problems by secretly taking the camera home. This event opened his eyes to how easy it was to pocket passengers’ belongings, and he began to steal more and more items in increasingly brazen thefts.
After stealing over $800,000 worth of items from passenger bags over a four-year period, he was finally caught when he tried to auction off an easily identifiable camera belonging by a CNN producer, becoming one of the 381 TSA officers fired for theft since 2003.
In a recent interview with ABC, Brown states that there was a lax culture in the TSA that allowed dishonest screeners to easily get away with their crimes. ABC writes,
He said he soon learned how to read the X-ray scans to find the most valuable items to steal.
“I could tell whether it was cameras or laptops or portable cameras or whatever kind of electronic was in the bag,” Brown said.
At the time of his arrest, Brown was offering for sale some 80 cameras, video games and computers on his personal eBay page.
That’s a lot of cameras… No wonder it’s recommended that photographers always bring camera bags with them as a carry-on item.