updated 12:47 am EDT, Fri September 28, 2012
Investigation carried out at airports with 'history of TSA theft'
In an investigation launched by ABC News, a TSA officer in Orlando has been caught taking an iPad home that was left behind by the news crew to tempt prospective thieves. The iPad was one of ten purposely left behind at TSA checkpoints with a history of theft by government-hired employees. Nine others were put into the lost-and-found system, and their "owners" contacted, as dictated by policy.
Chair of the House Transportation Committee Rep John Mica (R-FL) said regarding the report that "this is the tip of the iceberg. It is an outrage to the public, and actually to our aviation system."
The iPad left in Orlando was not deposited into the lost-and-found system, and two hours later, the "Find My iPad" app showed the device as it left the airport and headed to the home of the TSA screener. After waiting 15 days, ABC news confronted Andy Ramirez, who denied having the iPad.
ABC news activated the audible alarm in the app, which forced Ramirez to turn the iPad over to the reporters, after taking off his uniform shirt. He explained that his wife had taken it from the airport, but how she got it from the lost-and-found department which Ramirez claims to have delivered the device after finding it, isn't clear.
Shortly after Ramirez handed over the iPad, his wife appeared at the door and said "no told my husband," presumably taking the blame for the iPad's removal from the airport. ABC News showed Ramirez handling the iPad at the checkpoint on video, at which point Ramirez shut the door on the news crew, and has answered no further questions about the incident.
In a statement, the TSA said it "holds its employees to the highest ethical standards." Ramirez was no longer with the agency as of Wednesday afternoon. In a statement to ABC News, the agency said it has "a zero-tolerance policy for theft and terminates any employee who is determined to have stolen from a passenger."