A TSA employee at the Los Angeles International Airport has been fired for allegedly stealing from the wallet of a passenger. Clyde Reese, 47, was arrested on suspicion of theft on Friday and booked in response to an airline passenger's complaint.
ABC News reports that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) authorities have been fighting the problem of theft by TSA employees. If Clyde Reese is fired he would be the 382nd employee, ABC News reports.
LA Times reports Reese of Gardena, was booked on a misdemeanor theft charge after a passenger complained that his money was taken from his wallet placed in a plastic bin for screening.
According to ABC News, the Los Angeles Police released a statement Friday saying that the passenger complained to the authorities that money was taken out of his wallet while he passed through the airport security at Los Angeles Intentional Airport.
The passenger who, according to CBS Los Angeles, was not identified, said Reese told him the wallet and other items in the bin needed to go through the X-ray screening machine a second time.
Police Sgt. Karla Oritz told The Daily Breeze that the passenger reported that after the bin had passed through the X-ray screening machine, his wallet was open and the contents scattered. The passenger said his boss gave him $500 for expenses and $100 was missing.
After an investigation, 47-year-old TSA employee Clyder Reese, was arrested on suspicion of theft. According to LA Times, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez, said the agency will remove Reese from his screening duties. He would also help police in the investigation. Melendez said that if the case against Reese is proven, he could be fired. CBS Los Angeles reports Melendez said that the agency “holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for theft. In cases involving theft on duty, it is agency policy to remove the officer immediately from screening duties and terminate the officer from employment."
ABC News reports the alleged theft occurred a day after Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) called on TSA to strengthen its internal anti-theft policies. Schumer made the call after an ABC News investigation uncovered evidence that theft was rampant among TSA employees.
ABC News claims that its reporters tracked an iPad they deliberately left at a security checkpoint to the home of a TSA officer. The officer was fired for the alleged theft, making him the 381st TSA officer to be fired for theft by the TSA in about a decade.
According to ABC News, another TSA employee Pythias Brown, was sentenced to three years in prison for theft after he confessed that he stole $800,000 worth of cash and valuables from airport passengers.
Brown reportedly confessed: "It was very commonplace, very. It was very convenient to steal… [TSA agents] didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, 'I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong.' But when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive."
TSA authorities have conducted random sting operations on their employees in the past. ABC News reports that the stings are usually conducted in response to complaints. Senator Schumer, however, urged TSA head John Pistole to conduct more random sting operations on its employees.
Schumer said: "The TSA has a huge job, but when it comes to the security and safety of people's valuables, which they entrust to the TSA when they put them on the conveyor belt and go through the inspection, [TSA officials] have to be very, very careful and very, very vigilant. Thus far they haven't done enough and could be doing more."
TSA responded to Schumer's letter, saying, "ensuring the safety of travelers through a professional workforce is of the highest priority for the TSA. TSA takes allegations of misconduct seriously and will take appropriate corrective action as warranted."