Arrest of Airport Baggage Handlers Spotlights Need for Coverage

March 13, 2009

Risk Alert

The arrest of 10 baggage handlers for grand larceny at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport on March 2nd was reported in the Hartford Courant newspaper. The report gave official statistics on the problem of baggage or their contents that disappear while passing through the U.S. aviation security system administered by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2009, the TSA received 17,500 claims for lost, damaged or stolen items. The Hartford newspaper reviewed TSA records showing 49,132 claims for loss or theft between 2002 and 2008. According to David Stepler, president of the Air Travelers Association, several factors actually keep the number of baggage claims down. One is that goods are often not discovered lost until the travelers get home. Another is that people doubt their ability to prove a theft on which a possible recovery of lost items could be achieved. A third factor is that baggage handlers at smaller airports are often third-party contractors who are not constantly supervised as they handle baggage. Additionally, according to the report, TSA fired 465 security officers between May 2003 and October 2008.

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