FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami.com) – A former Transportation Security Administration employee at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is accused of having sticky fingers and a quick internet connection to make a fast buck.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Nelson Santiago stole an iPad from a passenger’s suitcase and was believed responsible for a string of thefts over the past six months. Santiago was responsible for screening luggage.
Investigators say Santiago made off with $50,000 worth of computers, cameras and other electronics. They say he would quickly post a picture of the stolen item online and have the item sold — on some occasions — before his shift at work was over.
Investigators say Santiago’s scheme was stopped when a Continental Airlines employee saw Santiago pull an iPad computer out of a suitcase and place it into his pants. The Continental employee reported Santiago, and Santiago was arrested.
BSO detectives wrote in an arrest report that Santiago gave a statement “admitting the theft and advised that there were other incidents.”
Santiago worked in the terminal that served Southwest and Continental Airlines and was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of grand theft. He is out of jail on bond. We were unable to reach for comment Thursday.
Santiago had been working for the TSA since January 2009, but no longer works for the government agency.
Passengers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood said they were pleased Santiago was caught.
“You kind of trust these guys to go through our stuff and make sure everything’s safe not steal anything,” said Charlton Slaughter.
“It’s like the police — we expect them to be honest and trustworthy and to take good care of our equipment and screening and keep us safe, not make a hardship for us,” said Pam Matthews.
In a statement TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said, “The Transportation Security Administration has a zero tolerance for theft and we move swiftly to terminate the employment of anyone who violates the public’s trust working closely with our law enforcement partners. The action of this former employee should not reflect on theoutstanding job our more than 48,000 officers do every day to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”
Investigators hope to hear from other victims but have doubts that many of the stolen items will be recovered. If you think you may have been a victim, call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.