A Transportation Security Administration security officer who was convicted of theft says he was "part of a culture" of convenient and indifferent thieving.
Speaking publicly for the first time since being released from prison, Pythias Brown, former TSA officer at Newark Liberty International Airport, told ABC News that theft was "very commonplace" and "very convenient" at the New Jersey airport.
Brown admitted to having stolen $800,000 worth of cameras, electronics and other items from checked luggage over a four-year period.
In 2009, the Star-Ledger reported that Brown's undoing had come the year before when he had attempted to sell a stolen camera on eBay:
[H]e allegedly swiped camera equipment belonging to cameramen from CNN and HBO who had checked baggage with Continental Airlines while flying from Newark. The CNN employee noticed the stolen equipment for sale on eBay. Investigators traced it to Brown, authorities said.
When investigators obtained a warrant to search Brown's house, they found thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods.
According to ABC News, Brown is "one of almost 400 TSA officers who have been fired for stealing from passengers in the past decade."
In February, the Associated Press reported that a "string of thefts" by TSA agents had "embarrassed" the agency in the preceding months. (One officer stole $5,000 in cash from a passenger's jacket as he was going through security at New York's John F. Kennedy airport , while another agent in Los Angeles stole a passenger's $15,000 watch.)
The TSA has long insisted that it has "a zero-tolerance policy" for theft. The agency also told ABC News that it "disputes that theft is a widespread problem, saying the number of officers fired represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed by TSA."
Brown says he is speaking publicly in an effort to warn airline passengers about the TSA's alleged thieving culture.