It's a scenario that every traveler dreads while at the airport; having one of their possessions stolen. Beth DiPasqua and her family were traveling from Philadelphia to Ireland earlier this month. As they went through a security check point at Philly International, police say a Wendy’s fast food employee stole her iPad right out of her bin. DiPasqua didn’t realize it was stolen until after the family arrived in Ireland.
“On all the new iPads there is an APP that can track down your device,” she said. “It uses GPS.”
After returning from vacation, the family stopped by the police station at the airport. Using the GPS app, detectives tracked down the iPad and arrested the worker who stole it.
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While DiPasqua is happy to have it back, she’s also concerned about airport security. DiPasqua claims TSA workers made the family move to another line and away from their bin, creating the opportunity for the thief to grab the iPad.
“You hear all of the messages saying to never leave your bag,” said DiPasqua. “And then this TSA worker is insisting that we leave our stuff.”
“It troubles us to hear that people don’t feel like they can talk to our officers,” said a TSA spokesperson. “I want to assure passengers that in a case like this if you and a family member moved to another lane but one member said to an officer, ‘look I just put my items here and I want to stay with them,’ that’s a reasonable request and I think that would have been fine.”
Earlier in March, officers arrested an employee at the airport for an iPad theft on a plane. In December, they charged baggage workers for stealing electronics from passengers. Captain Michael Murphy of the Philadelphia Police Department insists that crimes involving airport employees are taken seriously.
“When they are arrested, their credentials and badges are taken off them, it’s deactivated and they’re no longer allowed to come into the airport,” said Captain Murphy.
Last year, police say they arrested a total of 45 people for theft at Philly International. However, reports of the number of claims made by passengers show thefts have declined. According to police records, 215 passengers say they had an item stolen somewhere in the airport in 2012. In 2011, there were 300 claims in all. Murphy says the majority of the people arrested for theft are other passengers.
“It could be passengers or employees that work for a particular restaurant,” he said. “You have people that report they left their laptops or cell phones plugged in on charge, walked away from it and didn’t see them when they came back.”
So far in 2013, police say 10 people in all were arrested for theft at the airport. None of those people were TSA agents.
The TSA recommends that travelers put small items like wallets and jewelry in their carry-on bag instead of leaving them loose in security bins. They also recommend that you label your laptops, iPads and other electronic devices with your name and phone number.