EXCLUSIVE: Jewelry is most common item reported missing or stolen from Hopkins

2:03 AM, Dec 28, 2007   |    comments
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  • Channel 3's Dick Russ has an update on our first report about your property that ends up stolen, missing, or damaged, in our airports. Brace yourself. The amount of property disappearing from passenger luggage may disturb you more than any rough landing. Channel 3 News has learned nearly $57 million in personal property from passenger luggage has turned up broken, missing or stolen at airports nationwide. Much of that property disappears after entering secure areas of the airport. For 7 months, Channel 3 News Investigators have been battling the Transportation Security Administration to obtain public records on passenger property. We finally obtained an electronic database from TSA that contains about 3,000 pages of valuables that passengers reported missing or damaged. Passengers are claiming all kinds of items have turned up missing from their checked and carry-on bags; things like medicines, laptops, DVD players, and jewelry. Channel 3 News found the most common items missing or stolen nationwide were clothing, including belts and accessories. More than 5,900 items valued at $2.5 million. Second on the list is more than $13 million of fine jewelry with 5,680 pieces missing. Digital cameras are third with more than 4,400 of them reported missing and stolen, carrying a value of nearly $3 million. Nationwide, passengers have filed 76,000 claims in just 3 years. Marti Hallstrom of Wadsworth is among those who have accused TSA of stealing personal property at Cleveland Hopkins. Marti inadvertently left her glasses, a watch and a special bracelet at a TSA checkpoint. Not to worry, TSA said she could pick them up when she flew back to Cleveland later the same day. "The TSA officer confirmed that morning that he had all items and that he would lock them in the office," said Hallstrom. But when she arrived back home, TSA returned only her glasses and watch. The multi-stone bracelet, a gift from her husband, was gone. She blames TSA. "Someone from inside that locked office took that bracelet. There’s no doubt in my mind," said Hallstrom. Marti filed a claim and won. She's among nearly 600 passengers at Cleveland Hopkins alone who have filed claims in just 3 years for nearly $345,000 worth of personal property; that's an average loss of about $600. By far the most common item reported stolen or missing at Hopkins was jewelry, more than $71,000 worth of merchandise. Mike Young, the head of TSA locally, has a zero tolerance policy for theft. He admits it’s tough to catch thieves red-handed, but they know if they are caught, they'll be fired. Young hasn't disciplined anyone yet, but nationwide, 269 TSA employees have been fired for theft, including this federal baggage screener, who was caught on tape stealing cash and other valuables at JFK Airport in New York. It's not only stolen items at airports, but damaged property as well. Luggage and laptops end up damaged the most, along with clothing. At Hopkins Airport, there is about $30,000 worth of damage a year to those three items. If your property has been damaged at an airport, or is missing or stolen, you will have to contact the Transportation Safety Administration and file a report. Click on the related link below for more information on filing a claim with TSA.


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