Sunday, June 1, 2008

FIVE TIPS TO ENSURE THE TSA DOESN'T STEAL YOUR STUFF

CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT TRIBUNE MEDIA Taking. Something. Always. That's what TSA means to airline passengers like Edward Fleiss, a sales manager from Huntington, N.Y. When screeners inspected his wife's carry-on bag at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport recently, he claims her designer eyeglasses were swiped. "Great sleight of hand," he says. "We didn't even know they were gone until we got to Los Angeles.". . .

Since it was created in 2001, the agency has fired about 200 employees accused of stealing. Although the TSA has taken steps to discourage these government workers from helping themselves to our personal effects - including background checks on new hires, video cameras in screening areas and rules forbidding backpacks or lunchboxes at checkpoints - more and more passengers like Fleiss are coming forward to say they've been ripped off by the very people who are supposed to protect them. . .

One aviation insider I spoke with believes stealing is a systemic problem the federal agency is unable to control, particularly at problem airports like New York's LaGuardia Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. Not all of the screening areas in U.S. airports are under surveillance, and the TSA's rules have a big loophole that shifts liability for stolen baggage claims to the airline when luggage is delayed, he told me. In other words, there's little incentive for the stealing to stop. "It's the 800-pound gorilla no one wants to discuss at TSA," he says.

FIVE TIPS TO AVOID TSA THEFT

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