Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Disturbing trend: TSA agents vandalizing travelers’ property

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has taken a lot of flak lately for numerous instances of thievery. But I’d like to shine a light another TSA offense – vandalism of traveler’s property.
As administrator of the Twitter account @TSArants, I’ve documented a lot of complaints about the TSA – more than 20,000 over the last 10 months. That’s just a small sample of all the complaints on Twitter about TSA.
Mixed in with the usual complaints about TSA sexual molestation and thuggery are quite a few reports about TSA agents breaking stuff. I have seen numerous reports of broken luggage and bicycles and dropped notebook computers.
But the vandalism I find most disturbing are the cases were TSA agents open a bottle of shampoo or other liquid in a traveler’s suitcase and dump it all over their clothes. This sort of behavior is mean-spirited and juvenile, to say the least.
I can picture TSA agents having a good laugh as they pour perfume over a traveler’s clothes in a suitcase they’re inspecting. Then, to top it off, they throw in the standard form that says the bag has been inspected by the TSA.
It’s bad enough that TSA agents steal from luggage they’re inspecting, but vandalizing someone’s personal items is just nasty.

Here are a few representative tweets from the last couple of weeks.

On Oct. 6, Caleb Bachman of Oklahoma tweeted that his luggage had been violated.
“Just got home and found that our checked bag was opened and subsequently pillaged by TSA. Broken/damaged items, ruined clothes, etc. Awesome,” he wrote.

On Oct. 10, Twitter user @MereMir wrote, “Dear TSA, thanks for ruining a $200 amazing bottle of perfume I got for my birthday and spilling it all over my new birthday gifts. Really appreciate and look forward to our next meeting.” She included a photo of the empty perfume bottle and a TSA Notice of Baggage Inspection. (See her Instagram photo above.)

Also on Oct. 10, Deb Roundtree wrote, “So, I wonder if the TSA purposely dumped a bottle of shampoo inside of my luggage yesterday.”

On Oct. 11, Michael Creasy of San Francisco wrote, “My bag was ‘inspected’ by the TSA. They didn’t bother to re-wrap the jar of BBQ sauce in my bag. So it smashed. Ruined clothes.”

On Oct. 13, Stephanie Reed of Danville, Va., tweeted that a shampoo bottle had been opened and spilled all over her clothes in her checked luggage. And the lid from a pill bottle also was left open. (See her Instagram photo at the top of this article.)

On Oct. 14, Craig L. Chapman wrote, “Dear #TSA this is the second laptop screen you broke. Your carelessness and ineffectiveness is a burden to this nation.” He included a photo with his post. (See below.)

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