This particular iPad wasn’t just a random tablet taken at a security checkpoint. It was one of ten left behind by ABC at airports around the country.
Nine out of ten of the left-behind iPads were given back to the owners, whose contact information was clearly written on each device’s case.
But within two hours of being left at an Orlando International Airport security checkpoint, a tracker on the iPad showed it was on its way to a new home.
ABC checked with the airport lost and found and confirmed that the iPad had never been checked in. And after giving the TSA officer a couple weeks’ grace period to be a good guy and contact the owner himself, ABC tracked the iPad to his house, where the TSA staffer said he knew nothing about the device in question.
That’s when ABC set off an audio alarm on the iPad, causing the man to fess up, but only after he took off his uniform.
The TSA said Ramirez was no longer with the agency as of Wednesday afternoon. In a statement to ABC News, the agency said it has “a zero-tolerance policy for theft and terminates any employee who is determined to have stolen from a passenger.”
“I’m so embarrassed,” he explained to ABC. “My wife says she got the iPad and brought it home.”
When asked how his wife, who is not a TSA officer, could have “found” the iPad when it had been left at an airport security checkpoint, the man decided the interview was over and shut the door.
The TSA says the hundreds of thieving employees represent a “less than one-half of one percent” of TSA officers.
But some, like Florida congressman John Mica, who not only lives in the Orlando area but also happens to be the chair of the House Transportation Committee believes that there are probably a lot more out there who just haven’t been caught yet.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Mica told ABC. “It is an outrage to the public, and actually to our aviation system… [If] you’re not vetting them before you put them on the job, and allow them to rummage through people’s personal effects, there is something wrong.”