The Ubiquity of Broken Electronics Pilfering by the TSA

An anonymous reader sent us a curious little email yesterday evening. She claims that she has found an easy and environmentally safe way to discard of broken electronics, doo-dads and gizmos: pack them in her check-in luggage and wait for TSA monkeys to steal them.

She claims that for the last five years, she has packed broken laptops, hair dryers, PDA, electric razors and even a counterfeit copy of Debbie Does Dallas into her check-in luggage, only to delight when these all go missing on the other side of baggage claim.

Our reader asks if this is common for all travelers: for broken items to be stolen and perhaps sold on eBay. I have to admit, I’ve never had it happen once, but our reader speaks with dead certainty that this behavior is as predictable as the rising sun.

What about you? Is this common TSA practice? Our reader’s email after the jump.

We noted with horror that those poor folks in England were forced to put their expensive electronics into their checked baggage. This brought to mind a personal joke of ours that we’ve been pranking for five years, now. We put our broken electronics into our checked baggage. With only one exception, they are gone when we get to our destination. The exception was a pda with a broken display. Clearly,the inspector had no use for it, but we got rid of it on the next trip by packing it in the original box.

So far, we have unloaded an old Dell laptop with a fried motherboard; 2 pdas, a dysfunctional electronic translator, a broken hair dryer, and my late uncle’s weird collection of 11 non-working electric razors. We also unloaded our copy of The Attack ol the Giant Mosquitos by placing the DVD into a case that featured our very own Photoshop/ink-jet rendition of Debbie Does Dallas.

So this week, we got to thinking about the TSA again. And we were wondering if you might query your readers about their experiences with stuff missing from their checked baggage. We can’t be the only people experiencing this phenomenon. In fact, we think it’s a really big problem, considering that stuff is stolen from our bag on every trip we make through US airports.

We should also note that this theft problem, at least in our experience, has been limited to the US. We have never had anything taken from our bags in Europe or Asia, even in really poor countries such as Myanmar and Honduras.

We think the TSA should be made aware that their inspectors do their Christmas shopping during working hours. And that there should be some accountability or some sort of insurance available to the weary, much put-upon traveller.

What do you think?

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