Thursday, July 21, 2011

TSA agent plunders $50K in electronics, caught shoving iPad in pants

Have you ever lost something from your bag after checking it at the airport? The TSA gives us another reason to diligently guard portable electronics in our carry-on luggage.
nelson-santiago-tsaArrested in Terminal One of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, former US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent Nelson Santiago-Serrano was caught with stolen property in his pants. An employee of Continental watched Santiago-Serrano take an iPad out of a piece of luggage and stuff the Apple device into his pants. After alerting authorities, Santiago-Serrano was taken into custody. He told authorities that he had stolen $50,000 dollars worth of electronics including computers, video cameras, GPS units and other various devices.
Once Santiago-Serrano pilfered a new item, he listed the item online and typically sold it before his shift ended. Thirty-year-old Santiago-Serrano worked for the TSA for the last 30 months, but was fired by the TSA after being charged with two counts of grand theft. The sheriff’s office is attempting to locate victims of Santiago-Serrano’s actions. Santiago-Serrano was released Tuesday on a $4,000 bond.
This isn’t the first time a TSA agent was arrested for theft of personal property. In June, former TSA agent Paul Yashou was arrested for stealing personal property at Terminal One of the Los Angeles International Airport. Yashou actions were discovered by a tip from an Orange County pawn shop. It’s estimated Yashou stole $30,000 of property in his nine years as a TSA agent. Former TSA agents Karla Morgan and Dawn Nikole Keka were arrested for stealing money from luggage planted by authorities in a sting operation. Former TSA agents Persad Coumar and Davon Webb were also caught stealing money from bags and police found $40,000 of loose bills at their homes. Coumar and Webb claim to have stolen $160,000 in property while working at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Santiago-Serrano’s actions serve as a reminder to all travelers to repeatedly check belongings for expensive portable electronics as well as any traveling money when traveling via plane. Other tips include using padded notebook pockets in luggage, laptop locks and online laptop tracking.

Theft from travelers and their Luggage

Theft from travelers and their bags, is as old as time itself, it goes back to the nomads and the caravans; however the mode of travel have changed over time, and so have the method of taking advantage of the unassuming and weary traveler. This posting is not an indictment against the TSA or the baggage handlers nor is it intended to denigrate them, it is just a bit of information for those who travel,and to ensure that they use common sense when they do get on the road or up in the air.Today, theft from the travelers can and often begins at the cubs side drop off check in and continue on to the TSA, and those who put the travelers bags on the plane, that is if they are traveling by plane,the bus or train is the same.Take a look at the following stories from the news headlines and govern yourself accordingly, a word to the wise should be sufficient:
Airline supervisor pleads guilty to Portland baggage theft
Northwest Airlines, now Delta baggage supervisor stole checked luggage at Portland airport; faces 18 months in prison. By The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — A former Northwest Airlines baggage supervisor at Portland International Airport has pleaded guilty to stealing checked luggage. Bridgett Bunnell pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft and theft by receiving on Monday. Under a plea deal, the 44-year-old Molalla woman is expected to serve 18 months in prison. She is to be sentenced Nov. 3. Prosecutors accused Bunnell of stealing more than $10,000 worth of luggage, then posting some of the stolen goods on the Internet for sale. A co-defendant, 46-year-old Jose Trejo Romero, a former Northwest Airlines baggage handler, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft last week. Under a similar plea agreement, Romero also will face 18 months in prison
St. Louis airport theft ring busted, Updated 3/20/2009. By Jim Salter, Associated Press Writer

ST. LOUIS — Eight contract baggage handlers for Delta Airlines rifled through hundreds of bags of luggage at Lambert Airport over a period of more than a year, stealing some 900 items ranging from laptops and iPods to cologne and cigarettes, airport police said Thursday. Formal charges have not been filed, and names of the suspects were not released. Airport Police Chief Paul Mason said the workers were employed by St. Louis-based Huntleigh USA, hired by Delta to handle baggage. Huntleigh chief executive officer Richard Sporn said all eight workers were fired. "It clearly is an unfortunate situation and we are distressed by the news," Sporn said. "Unfortunately we are not the first for something like this to happen. All we can do is learn from this and try to make sure it doesn't happen again." At a news conference at the airport, most of the recovered items were laid out on tables. The thieves targeted expensive goods, mostly electronic devices, games, computers and computer equipment. There also were more mundane items — cartons of cigarettes, battery chargers, even cologne. Mason asked anyone who believes they were victimized to call a special hot line: 314-890-1822. Victims will be asked to somehow prove stolen items are theirs. For example, they may be asked to cite directions on a stolen GPS, or songs on a stolen iPod. Delta said in a written statement that it was working with authorities on the case. A spokeswoman declined to elaborate and would not say if the Atlanta-based airline would consider ending its contract with Huntleigh. Airport police track all reports of stolen items from luggage, and Mason said the thefts apparently began 12 to 15 months ago. In January, airport detective Eric Williams noticed a pattern. A tip from an airport employee confirmed his suspicion that workers at the airport were stealing. Williams developed suspects and began interviewing them earlier this month. Mason said the suspects admitted to the crime and even led authorities to a home in Jersey County, Ill., where one of the suspects lives. Many of the stolen goods were found at that home. Mason said the workers were opening bags before placing them on outbound flights. "They were carrying (stolen items) out in their coats, or fannypacks, or backpacks," he said. Huntleigh provides baggage handling services at Lambert only for Delta. Mason said the thefts have raised concerns for other airlines, too, though he believes it was an isolated incident. "I've been here 20 years and this is the first time we've had anything of this magnitude," he said.Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Sting nabs sticky-fingered JFK airport workers going through luggage,  BY Wil Cruz  DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER  Wednesday, July 15th 2009, 12:08 AM

A sting captured by security cameras nabbed two sticky-fingered airport workers who swiped electronics planted by authorities, officials said. Brian Burton, 27, and Antwon Simmons, 26, stole a laptop and cell phone from the decoy luggage as it moved through Kennedy Airport, Port Authority officials said. "When air travelers check their luggage with an airline, there is an implicit trust that their bags and their contents will meet them at their destination," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. "The defendants are accused of betraying that trust."  Burton, an officer with the Transportation Security Administration, was videotaped July 7 pilfering through the Miami-bound suitcase in an airport screening room while Simmons, a baggage handler, looked on. The thieves also switched the luggage tags, hoping to conceal their handiwork, officials said. The suitcase was a trap set by the Transportation Security Administration and Delta Air Lines. They stuffed the luggage with a lap top, an iPod and two cell phones, prosecutors said. The pilfering pair - who had been on cops' radar, a source said - took the bait, failing the so-called integrity test. Burton, of Queens, and Simmons, of Brooklyn, were awaiting arraignment last night on charges of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and falsifying business records. They face up to four years in prison if convicted.
How to Get Through Airport Security Faster
Airport security is a traveler's rite of passage: the long lines, the ID check, the shuffling of personal items. Get through security faster with these easy strategies. By JD Rinne, Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Pack like you're making lasagna: (no, seriously!) You probably don't want a security official inspecting your carry-on bag by hand. Time-consuming inspections usually only happen when an x-ray machine operator can't identify items. Avoid this hassle by packing in a way that keeps your curling iron, hair dryer, and other hard-plastic or dense items separate in your bag, instead of allowing them to get tangled in a pile—and look suspiciously like a bomb or a weapon on an X-ray scan. Layer your electronics and toiletries in between your clothes like you're spreading ricotta cheese in between strips of pasta to prepare lasagna. Put heavy clothes on top to act as a weight and secure loose items.

Remember the 3-1-1 rule: If you plan to go carry-on only, any liquid should be kept in a 3.4-ounce bottle or smaller. You're only allowed as many bottles as can fit in one quart-size, clear ziplock bag. Find bottles in your local drugstore's travel or $1 section, or online. Buying products packaged in small amounts can be expensive: We recently found face wash in a two-ounce bottle for for $9, shaving cream for about $6, and contact lens solution for $10.50. By transferring your liquids from standard-size bottles into TSA-friendly containers, like our favorite squishy bottles from, you should save a lot of money. Try the GoToob squishy bottles from for storing your liquids.
Dress for success: Slip-on shoes (preferably with socks; think of the dirty feet that have been on that linoleum), minimal jewelry, and no belt is the standard uniform for moving through security fast. If you insist on wearing jewelry and a watch on the plane, take them off and slip them into a pocket in your carry-on before you enter the security cordon.
Use flight-ready toiletries: Keep your travel bag stocked with "flight ready" items that don't break the TSA's liquid rules, such as solid perfume, and lip balm instead of lip gloss.

Buy a TSA-approved laptop bag: The TSA allows laptops to go through the X-ray in checkpoint-friendly laptop bags, like a simple $20 Skooba Skin. The most common and cheapest is a laptop sleeve. Consumer Reports recommends a few here. Laptops are also among the most-forgotten items at security, so label yours with a business card or ID tag.

Keep an eye peeled for new security programs: Fifty airports (including Boston, Chicago, and Seattle) have security lines split among Expert, Casual, and Family travelers. Look for the signs and hit the line that's right for you—we suggest Expert now that you've read our tips. Also, remember that 18 airports and five airlines are currently participating in the Paperless Boarding Pass pilot program. If the program covers your flight, you can go straight to the security checkpoint and use your cell phone as a boarding pass.

IT'S SHOWTIME: Once you've presented your ID and boarding pass, get moving. Find the shortest line—look especially for lines toward your left because studies show that Americans are more likely to turn right than left when entering a building, so lines on the left will tend to be shorter. Grab two bins. The TSA is asking travelers to put shoes directly on the X-ray belt, so do that first. Pull out your quart-size bag of liquids and small electronics (like an iPhone) and lay them on top of your jacket. In the second bin, put your laptop (or, if you've got just got one bag or purse, use this bin for that). After successfully passing through the metal detector (because we know you will), grab your shoes and slip them on, then snag your other belongings and slip them back in your bag. Look around quickly for anything that may have come loose, and then exit the security area to keep the line moving. Bottom line is: if you don't want to lose it, carry it! If you can't carry it, ship it via Fed Ex, or UPS.
"The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see." ~G.K. Chesterton

Arizona couple arrested for stealing scores of luggage

Arizona couple arrested for stealing scores of luggage
Wed Nov 4, 2009 3:59pm EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Police have solved the mystery of where about 1,000 pieces of luggage from Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport disappeared to -- the home of local couple Keith and Stacy King.Authorities initially detained Keith King three weeks ago after he was spotted entering the airport from outside and taking a piece of luggage police learned was not his from a baggage carousel to the parking lot. However, his initial arrest apparently did not put an end to his alleged activities as King was found again on Monday at the airport taking another suitcase. Police followed him to his home on the outskirts of Phoenix, obtained a search warrant, and discovered the huge luggage stash."We believe that the suspects ... went through the bags pretty much as soon as they got them and took out what they thought was of value and could use," Phoenix police spokesman Detective James Holmes told Reuters.
"It's a God awful lot of luggage, you can't even imagine," he said. Holmes said that interviews with neighbors revealed that the couple had yard sales most weekends to sell a variety of the stolen goods, including the suitcases themselves. While it was unclear what was the role of King's wife in the scheme, the two are likely facing a multitude of charges including theft and burglary, he said. Authorities are now trying to identify "massive amounts of stolen items" in an attempt to reunite them with their owners.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Philip Barbara)

Woman Gropes TSA Agent's Breast at Security Checkpoint

Updated: Saturday, 16 Jul 2011, 2:31 AM EDT
Published : Friday, 15 Jul 2011, 9:09 PM EDT

Adapted for the Web by Staff

PHOENIX - We hear a lot of complaints about security screeners groping airline passengers.

Yukari Miyamae allegedly groped a female TSA agent in Arizona
But now, a Colorado woman is accused of putting her hands on a TSA agent at Sky Harbor  International Airport in Phoenix. Court records show 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae grabbed the left breast of the female agent Thursday at the Terminal 4 checkpoint. Police say she squeezed and twisted the agent's breast with both hands. Officers say Mihamae admitted to the crime. There's no word why she touched the agent. Mihamae now faces a felony count of sexual abuse. According to court records, she lives in Longmont, Colorado and is self-employed.

No Felony Charges For Longmont Woman In TSA Groping Case
LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – No felony charges will be filed against the Colorado woman who allegedly sexually assaulted a Transportation Security Administration agent in Phoenix. On Tuesday the Maricopa County district attorney decided to turn the case of Yukari Miyamae, 61, of Longmont over to city prosecutors. She could still be charged with a misdemeanor. Police say Miyamae grabbed the female agent’s left breast, squeezed and twisted it with both hands on July 14 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Miyamae was getting ready to board a flight from Phoenix to Denver. 
Yukari Miyamae (mug shot credit of Maricopa County Sheriff), TSA agents at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (credit: CBS)
Yukari Miyamae (mug shot credit of Maricopa County Sheriff), TSA agents at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (credit: CBS)
Miyamae’s attorney Judd Golden says his client was violated, endangered and threatened by the actions of TSA agents. She denies doing anything wrong.
Golden released a statement Tuesday, saying Miyamae is a self-employed translator, author and radio producer. He used the following words to describe how the situation unfolded: Ms. Miyamae says she told TSA agents she wanted to be screened by the metal detector gate. She did so out of concern for excessive radiation exposure from the full-body scanners, as she is a frequent business traveler. Her request was denied. She was soon surrounded by TSA agents. One TSA agent, a tall woman, approached Ms. Miyamae, who is only five feet tall. Ms. Miyamae felt panicked and experienced a volatile aversion to the TSA personnel violating her personal physical space. She felt endangered and threatened based upon prior traumatizing security pat-downs, repugnance at the prospect of being touched again in such a violent and undignified manner, and instinctively pushed the female TSA agent away. Golden says Miyamae is considering offers to do interviews but so far hasn’t committed to doing one.

3 Women Say TSA Screeners Groped Vaginas During Pat-Down

AP: We're now aware of three separate incidents in which TSA screeners have allegedly touched travelers vaginas during the new "enhanced" pat-downs. To recap: A blogger in Dayton, Ohio says a TSA employee at a Dallas airport touched her breasts, buttocks, vagina area and "both of my labia"; an elementary schoolteacher from Washington says, "I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants"; and today an ABC News employee claims she was subject to a "demeaning" search at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning. This one's the worst: "The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," the ABC employee says. "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate." In response to an inquiry from Good Morning America, TSA administrator John Pistole explained, "There should never be a situation where that happens. The security officers are there to protect the traveling public. There are specific standard operating protocols, which they are to follow." Well, it's good to know that TSA screeners aren't actually supposed to go to third base during a pat-down. But do they know that? Here are a few more horror stories: A 61-year-old cancer survivor from Michigan says he was humiliated after a pat down broke his urostomy bag, leaving him covered in his own urine. "I was so embarrassed and so petrified of going out into the airport and people would see me and quote unquote smell me," Thomas Sawyer tells ABC. "My underwear had dropped to the floor and I'm standing there in front of them with my underwear and had to ask to pull it up." A flight attendant and breast cancer survivor says the TSA made her take off her prosthetic breast. "She put her full hand on my breast and said, 'What is this?' I said 'It's a prosthesis because I've had a breast cancer,'" Cathy Bossi says. "And she said, 'You'll need to show me that.'" And here's the story of the rape survivor who was reduced to tears by a humiliating, full-body pat-down. As Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic previously noted, get back into the machine? Flying Pasties and Rocky Top Gear are here to help. Both companies sell underwear with strategically placed metal that will supposedly prevent TSA scanners from seeing your junk with the porno scanner. Rocky Top Gear's fig leaf metal design is also made with lead-free radiation-shielding material! And by the way, it is so easy  to invert the body scan negatives to reveal the individual's flesh-colored features.
As the man in one complaint said, "All one of these TSA pukes has to do is get a hold of this picture and it goes presto-chango, from not being able to recognize a thing to 'Hey, I used to date that girl!'" the TSA seems to be deliberately making the pat-downs as invasive as possible to discourage passengers from opting-out of the full body imaging scanners. During one recent airport visit, APGoldberg asked a  TSA screener if he was looking forward to conducting the enhanced pat-downs. "Nobody's going to do it," he said, "once they find out that we're going to do." Goldberg asked, "In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the Dick-Measuring Device over molestation" The screener replied, "That's what we're hoping for.We're trying to get everyone into the machine." So ladies, bottom line, rumors has it that male TSA Targets women for “Full Body Scans”