|by Brad Tuttle||Airfares & Flying, Safety and Security||23|
Federal investigators arrested a TSA staffer who allegedly regularly stole hundreds of dollars out of travelers' baggage at his security checkpoint.
According to an AP story, Michael Arato, a 41-year-old security screener at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, not only routinely rifled through passengers' bags on the hunt for cash, he also participated in a scheme involving kickbacks and bribes with a co-worker who also stole from passengers. In other words, this wasn't the work of one lone rip-off artist; at least two airport employees were involved.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Arato was, in fact, not merely a low-level employee but a TSA supervisor who regularly pocked $400 to $700 per shift, and who accepted roughly $3,100 in bribes over the past five weeks. It is assumed that the thievery has been going on for months, if not years.
Apparently, Arato and his partner in crime (who is now cooperating with the federal investigation) targeted one group of travelers in particular: foreign, non-English speakers flying from Newark back to their homeland -- India especially.
It goes without saying: It is unwise to travel with lots of cash and valuables. If you must, keep them close to you -- like, never out of arm's reach.