Transportation Security Administration baggage screener Pythias Brown was arrested after stealing and reselling more than $200,000 in gadgets and electronics while on duty at Newark International Airport.
Is there anything more stressful than flying? While it may be the safest way to travel, its the pre-boarding hassles that can raise your blood pressure. From bags that weigh in half a pound over the allowed limit, to unpacking all the gadgets from your "TSA-approved" carry-on before putting it through the scanner, your time at the airport is rarely a fun experience.
As if we didn’t have enough to be paranoid about when traveling, one TSA employee at the Newark Liberty Airport decided that making people take off their shoes and belts wasn’t enough torture. Pythias Brown, a TSA screener at Newark, was recently arrested by local NJ police. This 48-year old resident of Maplewood, NJ had a venerable treasure trove of gadgets and electronics in his home, ranging from cameras to laptops to GPS devices.
Brown apparently started with smaller items, like jewelry and portable game consoles. However, like most criminals, he became greedy and moved up to laptops, digital cameras, and even high-end professional grade video equipment, including a camera that was stolen from an HBO employees bag.
When a camera that belonged to CNN was stolen, a search by employees done on eBay revealed that eBay user "alirla" was attempting to sell it. After CNN contacted the local PD and the United States Postal Service, a sting was set up, and Brown was caught red handed.
A search of Brown’s house reveals some frightening figures. Despite a 15 page+ eBay feedback history, Brown still had a lot of selling to do. Agents who raided his house found 66 cameras, 31 laptop computers and an undisclosed amount of jewelry, lenses, and GPS devices. In all, Brown has stolen upwards of $200,000 worth of travelers belongings, which includes the HBO camera valued at over $47,000.
While no specific charges have been made public, the TSA is taking the matter seriously. No word on whether authorities will go after buyers for receiving stolen goods, but you can bet your laptop that Brown will be in jail for the foreseeable future. Almost more important than Brown being captured is to know how he managed to sneak such a gross amount of stolen property out of an airport like Newark. Jewelry and the occasional iPod may slip out under the radar, but a camera worth almost $50,000? It is doubtful that such a camera would fit into a backpack. It sounds like the TSA might need to take some of that federal money and pour it into more effective employee screening.