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TSA Employee Steals Over $200,000 in Electronics

By - Source: Tom's Guide | B 15 comments

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.

Related Links

Gadling Browns eBay Feedback Page

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  • 0 Hide
    nine3o , October 15, 2008 1:26 AM
    I always wondered what happened to my PSP last time I went to New York...
  • 0 Hide
    kelfen , October 15, 2008 2:25 AM
    lol New york has some good theft rate,
  • 0 Hide
    peteer01 , October 15, 2008 3:58 AM
    Hahaha...looking through his eBay comments, it looks like he was smart enough to buy discs and cables to sell with the stolen goods. Thank goodness this guy was caught, and I hope TSA learns something from this. I already travel with DSLR bag and laptop, and I'm bringing a projector in my suitcase next trip...I need to remember to take photos of everything before hand.
  • 0 Hide
    frozenlead , October 15, 2008 5:17 AM
    peteer01I need to remember to take photos of everything before hand.


    Nope, then they'll just take those, too.
  • 0 Hide
    starhoof , October 15, 2008 6:34 AM
    yeah, gotta actually give a crap about your items lol
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , October 15, 2008 11:36 AM
    So didn't any of those laptop users ever hear of lojack for laptops? I can understand home users that don't need it, but business travellers having corporate IT gear, you would expect some sort of security device built in to the laptop so that if it is lost during travel it can be traced and recovered.

    For items smaller than a laptop such as cameras and mp3 players, I just keep them on my belt. Good job though getting away with that 50k camera, must have been a big bulge down his pants...
  • 0 Hide
    mdillenbeck , October 15, 2008 1:45 PM
    Hmmmm... maybe if I could ever affort to fly somewhere, I'll UPS my stuff. After all, it probably would cost less than the baggage fees they now charge - and I can ship it insured in case it gets lost. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2008 3:01 PM
    Has everyone forgotten where these people came from? These are largely the same, high school dropout, can't find another job losers that the Feds converted to high paid super security specialists by the use of their magic wand. Give me a break....High cost anything?????Only in my carry on.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2008 3:02 PM
    Great advice -- photograph everything before you leave or ship it UPS! The photos will come in handy when you need to submit a claim and prove what you had.

    Hopefully this jerk will have his hands cut off. Remember - an eye for an eye!

    Happy travels!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2008 3:04 PM
    Venerable?
  • 0 Hide
    kamkal , October 15, 2008 4:16 PM
    Old BootHas everyone forgotten where these people came from? These are largely the same, high school dropout, can't find another job losers that the Feds converted to high paid super security specialists by the use of their magic wand. Give me a break....High cost anything?????Only in my carry on.


    i have to agree

    i worked at the airport for 2 months, never met so many morons at once in my life
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , October 15, 2008 9:27 PM
    Just one more reason to never got the US.
  • 0 Hide
    elpresidente2075 , October 17, 2008 8:41 PM
    Quote:
    Just one more reason to never got the US.

    Yes, and I'm sure Canada is much better :roll:
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , October 17, 2008 10:13 PM
    Well domestic airport security isn't nearly as bad in Canada.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 3, 2011 7:39 PM
    There were 68,000 claims of theft by TSA personnel last year, and very close to all of those claims were DENIED, just as mine was. We have thieves "Protecting" the flying public from terrorism.
    The job of the TSA is not to make us safe while flying; it's to make us "FEEL" safe by treating little kids and Grandma like they are death-dealing terrorists.
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