The Transportation Security Administration has paid passengers $3 million for losing, damaging or stealing items, according to a report.
"After investigating to determine if TSA or its agents were responsible, the agency approved or settled with passengers in about 15,000 cases – nearly 1 out of 3 claims filed from 2010 to 2014. Payments ranged from a few bucks for missing food or medicine to several thousand dollars for jewelry, electronics and other items passengers said were broken or disappeared in TSA's hands," said USA Today.
The nation's 30 busiest airports accounted for about two-thirds of all paid claims and about the same share of the government settlement payments, USA Today said. While John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York topped the list with 857 paid claims and Los Angeles International was next at 791, that's largely a result of the many millions more passengers' TSA screens there.
Among the 30 top airports, once adjusted by the number of people served, the share of passengers who filed claims – and got paid – was highest at Dulles International in Washington and Orlando International in the 2010 to 2014 time frame. Smaller airports were not immune to the problem. At Reno/Tahoe International, TSA approved 120 passengers' claims over five years – about the same as much larger airports including Chicago Midway, Nashville and Detroit.
TSA said the approved claims represent a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pieces of baggage its agents screen every day. TSA only has access to fliers' property for a small share of its journey, and checked bags spend much more time winding through airport conveyor belts, riding carts to airplanes and being handled by airline employees.
The agency says it's taken a zero-tolerance approach to theft, tightened hiring requirements for screeners and stemmed the tide of claims. TSA supervisors have fired more than 500 officers since 2003 for theft. Claims filed, and claims paid, are down about 35% from 2010 to 2014, according to USA TODAY's analysis. TSA denied approximately half of all claims filed since 2010, reported USA Today.
"TSA aggressively investigates all allegations of misconduct and, when infractions are discovered, moves swiftly to hold the offenders accountable," said Bruce Anderson, a TSA spokesman. "TSA holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero-tolerance policy for theft in the workplace."