The bust is the latest blow to the beleaguered agency. Earlier this year, there were as many as 40 TSA screeners dismissed from Newark Airport for failing to properly conduct their screening duties, and in some cases, sleeping on the job.
The sting comes after New York Sen. Chuck Shumer called on the agency to conduct stings and to subject screeners to the same searches as passenger when they leave work to make sure they aren’t looting luggage.
According to Shumer’s office, 381 TSA agents were terminated for theft from May 2003 to December 2011, and FAA figures show the agency received reports of missing items from 206 people last year.
Instances of theft by TSA personnel are becoming “a major problem” nationally and more serious than current statistics indicate, a law enforcement official said.
“This recurring problem we have with dishonest TSA personnel is not only a local problem, but a national problem,” the official added.
Such crimes raised the spectre of terrorism, as well, the source noted: “If unscrupulous TSA personnel are taking out items from airline passengers’ bags, what are they capable of putting in?”