Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TSA Screener Accused of Stealing Cash From Woman in Wheelchair

A TSA agent has been arrested and arraigned on a federal charge of stealing more than $400 from a wheelchair-using passenger as she passed through a security checkpoint at the Newark airport, according to this report by WNBC-TV in New York City.

According to the criminal charge, Leroy Ray lifted cash from the woman's carry-on bag after she had placed it on the X-ray machine belt at the checkpoint. Ray was caught on surveillance video, the complaint said. The incident occurred on Feb. 3.

Here's a much more detailed report on the incident, in a somewhat windy article in the Newark Star-Ledger newspaper. Warning: You have to wade through a baloney journalistic sermon about the "social compact," etc., before you get to the actual news.

This is the latest theft scandal for the TSA, which always points out that nearly 2 million people a day pass through TSA checkpoints, and only a very tiny percentage of them are actually robbed.

And so on.

But let me add one more concern to the growing number of concerns about a security agency that has been troubled for many years, and without a permanent director for 16 months.

Once those whole-body imagers are all in place, you know, the ones the TSA hates it when someone calls them "strip-search machines," passengers will need to put all of their personal possessions onto the belt. Wallets, which we now carry in our pockets through the old-tech magnetometers, are not be allowed on one's person in the whole-body image scanners. Everything goes onto the belt.

Where it's available to the teeny, tiny percentage of TSA agents who might be thieves.

On its Web site, the TSA has a Q&A section in which a TSA person who goes by the name "Blogger Bob" addresses the query of whether one must "divest" onself of a wallet before entering the whole-body imager (WBI) machine -- which the TSA has lately begun calling "advanced imaging technology." The reason for the new name, I am informed, is that consultants suggested that "whole-body imager" had a bad connotation with the public, which is wary of strip-searching of their whole bodies.

Once divested, the wallet then goes on the belt along with your carry-on and shoes and other stuff.

Says Blogger Bob:

"Your wallet must be divested prior to WBI screening so we can screen its contents via the X-ray.

We also need to be able to determine you have nothing on your person while being screened in the WBI.

If you choose to keep your wallet on your person, you will be referred for additional screening and your wallet will receive a physical inspection. The additional screening is not a threat or a punishment for not divesting, it's just security protocol.

It's always a good idea to place your wallet in one of your bags or a coat pocket. It reduces the chances of it being separated from your belongings. Also, you can request to have your property stay in your view."


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