A former TSA agent who was fired for stealing more than $800,000 in items from passenger’s bags at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey told ABC News that thievery was common in the agency during his employment.
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Pythias Brown says that a culture of indifference lead to a widespread culture of stealing everything in sight. Brown is speaking for the first time after being released from prison for stealing on the job. His four-year stealing spree came to an end when he tried to sell a camera he stole from the luggage of a CNN producer on E-bay. He forgot to take off the network’s identifying tags and markers.
“It became so easy, I got complacent,” Brown admitted to ABC News.
He says that he learned to read the X-Ray scanners to determine which items were best to steal. Brown says even the TSA locks sold for luggage could not deter him because he and his colleagues eventually learned how to pick them.
During the time of his arrest, the ex-TSA agent was selling some 80 cameras, video games and computers on eBay.
ABC News has more on Brown’s story:
“It was like being on drugs, it was,” (Brown) told ABC News. “I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ but the next day I was right back at it.”
Brown described one instance when he got a tip off about complaints from passengers about thefts.
“One gentleman that used to work in the office one day came to me and said, ‘They were talking about you in the office. Be careful.’ I said, ‘Okay.'”
Brown told ABC News he decided to go public and admit his crimes in an effort to warn airline passengers about what could happen with luggage screened by TSA.
Brown is one of almost 400 TSA officers who have been given pink slips for stealing in the past decade. TSA, reports that 381 officers have been canned for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 so far in this year.