12 Year Old Boy: TSA Stole My Birthday Money

A 12 year old buy from Sacramento, California flew home from a family trip, only to discover that his $265 in birthday money had been stolen by a TSA agent. Sadly for the kid, it seems that the San Diego airport doesn’t have cameras, and, naturally, the inspector that stole the cash didn’t leave his number.

“Can’t we just check the video, can’t we just check the camera I mean I can describe the suitcase it had a yellow ribbon on it, she says we don’t have camera’s back there,” says Kim.

Kim could not believe her ears, there’s no video surveillance watching TSA employees in San Diego as they search people’s luggage?

“I think they should put cameras back so if it does happen to somebody they can check it, find it, and then return it,” says Jeffery.

Don’t check valuables! You have to assume that anything worth more than 5 bucks that you check is going to be stolen. It’s not pretty, but it’s the world we live in. —MEGHANN MARCO

Call Kurtis: TSA Security [CBS]


Edit Your Comment

  1. esqdork says:

    There is a special place in hell for people who steal from kids.

  2. jaredharley says:

    1) You don’t check valuables, ever.

    2) You STILL don’t check valuables, ever.

    3) Who says it was TSA? I didn’t see one thing in the article that conclusively proved it was a TSA agent. They’re not the only ones to come in contact with your bag.

    4) Nope. Still not checking valuables.

  3. joeblevins says:

    The TSA agents have the same resume as the people that throw the luggage on the plane. And they will all steal. If they had real skills and talent they would be real cops.

  4. wreckingcru says:

    I agree with Consumerist and Jared.
    And this isn’t a new thing, it has been happening for years. About 20 years ago, my mom and dad were traveling international and my mom decided to keep her jewelry in her checked suitcase.
    When they got the bag back, it had clearly been tampered with (suitcase lock broken), and her valuables were missing. And this is before the whole TSA-says-don’t-lock-your-bags-so-we-can-check-it thing.

  5. Canadian Impostor says:

    So they checked a bag full of cash and were surprised that people who have to work at the airpot stole it?

  6. Canadian Impostor says:


  7. DashTheHand says:

    And this is exactly why I don’t give a fuck about airlines or airports anymore. They are 10x slower, have exactly the same poor security, even higher priced, and they steal crap that doesn’t even matter. “Incendiary” pies, deodorant, and one douche had the nerve to try to tell me that I had to put my Nintendo DS in my checked luggage. I told him to get his supervisor immediately who apologized and told the obviously new idiot that I didn’t need to.

  8. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve resorted to FedExing my luggage and valuables to my destinations. No security hassles with it and it’s guaranteed to get there. It also allows me to sail in and out of the airport. No hanging around baggage claim, no broken bags, no missing bags.

  9. MustyBuckets says:

    You are right, silly them for believing in security. It’s not like he left the money on the ground somewhere, it was in his luggage that was suppose to get directly back to him.
    Although you should never check valuables for this reason, it was a 12 year old boy who probably didn’t carry a wallet. Before we blame him for not being more safe, maybe we should take a look at the system and try to get it fixed.

  10. gwong says:

    While I agree with everyone who says that you should never check your valuables, there should be a modicum of security attached to checking your luggage. Too bad this kid had to learn the hard way that you just can’t trust anyone these days – not even people wearing fancy uniforms.

  11. humphrmi says:

    This is a story that obviously invokes emotions – kids losing their birthday money. Who wouldn’t feel sympathy for this poor kid? How’s he supposed to know? Well, the kid does have parents, right?

    I agree with jaredharley here, the TSA isn’t the only one with access to your bag. And airline baggage handlers have been stealing valuables from unlocked luggage for decades.

    It’s sad, but the people who need to rectify this are the parents. If they let him pack money in his suitcase, that was poor judgement on their part. If they don’t know why, then they need to be made to understand why.

  12. Canadian Impostor says:

    @MustyBuckets: I’d blame the parents for not safeguarding a twelve year old’s money. They should know better.

  13. iMike says:

    @jaredharley: Jared is correct on all counts.

    Check luggage? Assume it won’t get there with you, if ever.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    Wait, TSA pulls every misguided, ineffective search/inconvenience on us short of anal searches, but they don’t provide a modicum of security on themselves?

    GEEZUS, I’m glad all their identities got stolen. Pray they’re in the hands of the Liberians as we speak…

  15. PhilK says:

    You shouldn’t check your valuables for multiple reasons, any number of people could’ve stolen his money, too bad. But the real question is why hell isn’t the TSA screener area monitored??!? That seems like a really obvious and necessary thing. How did that ever get approved?

  16. Youthier says:

    I feel bad for this kid for two reasons – he had his birthday money stolen and for having parents who have not taught him any common sense.

  17. Youthier says:

    @missbrooke06: There was some ugly verb confusion in that comment. Sorry.

  18. The-Seeker says:

    I agree with you and
    as Morrissey sings in his song:
    “How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel”

    “and as for you in your uniform
    your smelly uniform
    and so you think you can be rude to me
    because you wear a uniform
    a smelly uniform
    and so you think you can be rude to me
    but even I / as sick as I am
    I would never be you
    even I / as sick as I am
    I would never be you
    even I / sick and depraved
    a traveler to the grave
    I would never be you”

  19. Red_Eye says:

    @jaredharley: AFAIAC once you hand over that bag now its TSA property. It should not just be their responsibility to make sure that you do not bring explosives on the plane but that you bag is NOT tampered with. FFS if I hand my bag to Delta whos to say they can’t steal my BVD’s and put in C4? If someone is taking something out of a bag thats no longer in their possession then they can also be putting things in the bag.

    Once that bag leaves your person it should be 100% secure if we are to have any real semblance of security in air travel.

  20. Gloria says:

    Uh, $265 isn’t “a bag full of cash.” A grand, maybe. A million, definitely. It’s some kid’s money. Precautions should have been taken, yeah, but it doesn’t mean some asshole didn’t just ruin a kid’s birthday.

  21. brilliantmistake says:

    I have to agree with @PhilK: The stealing sucks, but the security issue is the larger problem. It’s another example of how we get nonsense rules (no liquids, etc.) instead of actual safety improvements.

  22. homerjay says:

    Yeah, thats the last place you want cameras is in an airport. Ya know, it might be a security risk, or considered an invasion of privacy.

  23. ingridc says:

    @Red_Eye: Maybe in some dreamworld where everyone gets a pony that poops candy, our bags would be 100% secure in the hands of overworked, underpaid airport security employees.

    Until then, I agree with several commenters that a) One should NEVER, EVER check valuables, and b) Where does a 12-year-old get the idea that putting a wad of cash in a bag that’ll be exposed to many hands will be “safe”? Doesn’t matter if the kid did or didn’t have a wallet – whatever happened to an envelope in a pocket? Or writing the kid a check?

    I do have some sympathy for the kid because it does really suck to have anything stolen, but his parents/guardians should have insisted that he keep his money with him on the plane.

  24. DashTheHand says:

    The problem with monitoring the TSA area is the assumption that whoever is doing the monitoring is trustworthy as well.

  25. axiomatic says:

    What security issue? So far I am unaware of an event where a terrorist used his luggage as a bomb etc. So I’m not sure what we are securing other than the false sense of security the TSA is implying but not really doing.

    The airline should compensate this kid if he can somehow prove the money was actually with him in his luggage.

    If at all possible, drive to your destination. You might learn something about America on your drive. Screw these airline idiots.

  26. shdwsclan says:

    Thats why it will be a long while before ill fly ever….again…

    How does that work when they make you check your laptop…..

  27. Snakeophelia says:

    I’ve resorted to FedExing my luggage and valuables to my destinations. No security hassles with it and it’s guaranteed to get there. It also allows me to sail in and out of the airport. No hanging around baggage claim, no broken bags, no missing bags.

    Seconded. I had so much stuff for my destination wedding that I FedExed it all. It was pricey (I was sending 7 boxes), but made life so much easier to deal with. I’m seriously tempted to start FedExing my suitcase to all vacation destinations, too.

  28. usmeekly says:

    some of those guys have sticky fingers even while you are standing in front of them.

    true story:

    a few years ago at CDG airport in Paris, a man was removing his pocket contents out of one of those trays after having passed through the metal detector, and a 50 euro bill dropped without him noticing. before i could say anything (or take it myself, hehe), i watched a security guard pick it up and slip it into his pocket, darting his eyes around nervously. it was a little disturbing, since, after all, the guard is there to protect passengers, not steal from them. unfortunately, i couldn’t really say anything, as i was hoping to make it on board without a search of my anal cavity by a disgruntled security guard whom i’d just accused of stealing. the whole situation was just sort of a disgusting abuse of power, and left me feeling icky.

  29. Griff says:

    Checking Valuables? Here’s how to do it:


    When you bring a firearm in your luggage (locked and unloaded, of course) TSA has a procedure to follow that includes inspecting your luggage (with you present) and then locking it for the remainder of the flight. The reason being that should your handgun get stolen, they’re in some serious shit.

    And for those who can’t stomach owning a real firearm, starter pistols will work in a pinch.

  30. royal72 says:

    “the money in question is believed to be counterfeit and was therefor confiscated. until we know where the bills in question came from and what they were to be used for, we withohold charging the boy in question.”
    -tsa representative

  31. tinychicken says:

    @ axiomatic:

    What security issue? So far I am unaware of an event where a terrorist used his luggage as a bomb etc.

    Air India Flight 182. June 23, 1985. 329 people dead. Also, a bomb in baggage intended for another Air India flight exploded at Tokyo’s Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers.

  32. humphrmi says:

    For those of you saying that the TSA is responsible for the security of your luggage throughout your flight: I just don’t see where you get this. All the TSA does is screen luggage at check-in time. The airline is ‘responsible’ for your luggage throughout this process and for the remaining 99% of the time that it is *not* in TSA posession but theirs. There are just too many underpaid, underscreened people who touch your bag enroute to secure it. I feel sorry for the kid and ultimately his parents should learn a lesson from this, but blaming the TSA just doesn’t do anyone any good here.

    And, no, I don’t work for the TSA. I used to work for the airlines. I got stories. You think the TSA has sticky fingers? Boy oh boy, I’d love to take you down to the ramp of any major airport.

  33. brilliantmistake says:

    In addition to what tinychicken listed, Pan Am Flight 103 (270 dead) exploded over Lockerbie from a bomb in the luggage. Besides, shouldn’t we be thinking about what terrorists might do next, not just what they have done? An unmonitored area staffed by a poorly-paid, thieving staff with access to luggage after its been screened by TSA seems like a highly exploitable security weakness.

  34. krunk4ever says:

    suitcases should now come with blackboxes that record video and audio so in the event someone does steal something, you’ll have proof.

    any tampering with the blackbox will cause its sirens to go off and squirt red ink everywhere.

  35. Kierst_thara says:

    Who gives a 12 year old several hundred dollars in cash for their birthday? When I was that age, if I had gotten that anywhere near that much money, my parents would have held onto it for me until it went in the bank, or was put towards a significant purchase. 12 year olds have absolutely no reason to carry around that much cash. What a waste.

  36. zolielo says:

    Cash in one’s wallet?

  37. jwissick says:

    @Grifftor: Amen brother.

    Also remember NOT to use the TSA locks if you bring a gun. Only the OWNER of the gun can have the key/combo. NO ONE ELSE. Not even TSA.

  38. informer says:

    I really don’t understand why the owner can’t be present while his/her luggage is being inspected, and then lock the luggage afterwards. It would solve the security issue, while greatly reducing the opportunity for theft. Too bad the “bring a gun” trick doesn’t work when traveling internationally.

  39. Jesse in Japan says:

    I really cannot for the life of me figure out why they would check cash anyway. I mean, money is kind of designed so that it can be carried around on your person. Doesn’t this kid have a wallet?

  40. creativecstasy says:


    the airports I fly through on a regular basis allow just that – check out the luggage in front of you and then you get to lock it. Burbank, San Jose, and some LAX terminals.

  41. redcorsair says:

    My parents, wife and I flew a couple weeks ago. When we got to our destination, one of our bags was late. When we finally got it, she was missing nearly all her toiletries, like shampoo, facial cleansers, hair products, lotions, etc. We calculated that she was missing almost $50 worth of that stuff, most of which was given to her at Christmas time by my parents.

    When we flew back, my mom was missing a $50 makeup kit out of her bag.

    This crap needs to stop. Somebody needs to stop this stuff.

  42. Gtown says:

    I work for TSA. I can’t speak about what happened at San Diego, but at Dulles, we have cameras. Last month one of our employees was fired for taking four quarters that were inadvertently left behind by a passenger.

    To assume TSA stole the money is pure speculation.

    Personally, I have no intention of stealing anything. It isn’t worth losing a government job, the benefits and the paycheck.

    To be honest a lot of the comments I have read show how uninformed the average American is.

    Has their been a plane flown into a building since TSA rolled out? No.

    Have we found bombs? Absolutely.

    Have we caught terrorists? Absolutely.

    Are we perfect? Absolutely not, but we are far better than pre 9/11 security which let 19 terrorists on board four airplanes with box cutters.

    Why do we take liquids? Because of liquid explosives. A quart and a half of liquid explosives placed in the right part of an airplane will kill everyone on board.

    Why do our screeners fail on test bags? Because we are using 1980’s technology. The next generation of X-ray machines will use CT scan technology.

    If you have paper money KEEP IT IN YOUR POCKET! It won’t set off the metal detector.

    If you don’t like being screened by TSA, Go Greyhound.