LAX Ranks High In Claims Of Stolen Or Missing Luggage

By David Goldstein

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — If you are heading to LAX for the holidays, watch out for the valuables in your luggage. TSA receives about 12,000 complaints each year of items lost or stolen from luggage nationwide.

No one knows if the thieves are TSA officers or baggage handlers, but we found that during the most recent eight-year period LAX has the most complaints in the nation.

“For me it was more like, ‘You guys went through my bag,'” said Felicia Winningham of Los Angeles.

Winningham was flying cross-country when TSA officers went through her checked bag for security reasons. When she got it back her vitamins and daughter’s DVDs were missing.

“How do you explain to a two-year old that your DVD isn’t in there? Your Elmo DVD isn’t in there?” she asked.

We discovered that from January 2002 through April 2010, LAX had 4,546 claims of items lost or stolen from luggage — the most of any airport in the nation. JFK was second with 3,946 claims followed by Newark Liberty Airport with 3,335 claims.

At LAX passengers reported missing 692 digital cameras, 475 pieces of fine jewelry and 442 laptops.

Ryan Driscoll was a TSA officer for nine years. He is on administrative leave after being arrested for stealing jewelry out of luggage.

David Goldstein: “They say they caught you red handed taking stuff out of luggage?”

Ryan Driscoll: “They definitely didn’t catch me red handed, let’s put it that way.”

David Goldstein: “Did you take anything out of the luggage?”

Ryan Driscoll: “No. There’s nothing. You’ll have to talk with my lawyer dude.”

Sources said it happened inside Terminal 7 in the baggage screening room, where TSA personal are supposed to be keeping the skies safe by checking for weapons or explosives.

Police said Driscoll had his hand inside a piece of luggage and pulled out some jewelry. He was arrested when it was allegedly caught on tape.

David Goldstein: “You are there to protect all of us in the skies and you are accused of stealing stuff out of luggage?”

Ryan Driscoll: “I don’t know what it says. This is something I don’t want to deal with. I’ve been there nine years. Been a long time.”

TSA told us they have a zero-tolerance policy for theft in the workplace.

Airport officials said that LAX is the number one origin and destination airport in the nation and that is why more claims are filed here. They maintain that in the first four months of last year — the most recent stats — LAX came in third.

But police sources said that there is a serious problem with thefts from luggage at LAX. They have been investigating TSA employees and baggage handlers, working separately and together, going through luggage and stealing items in a matter of seconds.

“Thefts occur because we make it easy for people to steal,” said Philip Little, a security expert, who has done a study on LAX and other airports.

He said because luggage is constantly on the move — sometimes in secure areas – it is easy for employees to get away with thefts.

“It’s not the question of how many we catch, because occasionally one gets caught, it’s how many we don’t catch,” Little said.

He recommends never putting valuables in checked luggage. Carry them with you to keep them away from thieves at the airport.

Visit TSA’s Claims Management Branch to learn how to file a claim for missing or damaged items in checked luggage.

More from David Goldstein
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    […] If you are heading to LAX for the holidays, watch out for the valuables in your luggage. TSA receives about 12,000 complaints each year of items lost or stolen from luggage nationwide. More from:… […]

  • Mike

    If you have to pass through LAX, make sure that whatever your pack in your luggage is expendable. The TSA and baggage handlers will make your valuables disappear. Where they find these flunkies is beyond me.

    • I see too much

      I can tell you right now, a vast majority of baggage handlers that work out of LAX are either active gang members or closely affiliated with gangs that specifically steal property from airline customers and profit to further the enterprise of these gangs. A huge amount of these stolen items end up in flea markets or traded for weapons and narcotics in some of LA’s more unsavory neighborhoods. Its an industry within its own; There is big money in it! What are the airlines and TSA doing about it? Nothing. They hire blatant street thugs sporting gang tattoos and gang attire without conducting any sort of proficient background check. What is even more alarming? Who is to say these thieves could not be easily bribed by a terrorist organization to remove or slip in a suitcase containing contraband or, even worse, something harmful travelers? My advice, DO NOT CHECK IN YOUR LUGGAGE at LAX!

      • John

        I couldn’t agree more with the comment. I had my TSA approved luggage(stolen) locks strip off the luggages twice. Thank goodness they did not steal any contents. I thought passengers are suppose to be screen by people who have clean background. LAX needs to install the camera and install television screen or monitor at the check in terminal where everybody can see TSA’s and luggage handler’s are working on the passengers luggages. This may deter their activity of stealing from passengers,

  • Ian

    put this garbage on the street

  • La Tunza Reed

    I was very angry when I saw your news report tonight. I was wrongfully terminated while on medical because I did not sign The Last Chance Agreement from Jason Pantages Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening but TSA Ryan Driscoll is on Administrative Leave. What is wrong with this picture? There is some discrimination going on in this agency and something has to be done about it.

    • klingon

      You were terminated because you were lazy and did not fulfill the basic requirements of your job. You and your thug friends stole countless items off paying airline customers. Go back to collecting welfare and selling dope.

      • Dana!~

        @ Klingon…why she gotta go back to sellin dope or collecting welfare! that was a REALLY RACIST comment and wasnt called for! we are all on here to have an open mind and not to attack each other! this L. REED was stating her opinion and you did as well but u made it really racist! that is wrong now… how do we know that you havent been stealing FROM your JOB! you may have a PONZI Scheme going since you so above someone! U really need to start being NICE…and i am sure things will turn around for you! @ L.Reed, if you wanted that job you would hve signed that sheet and then talked to someone after, now you have no job! but you will bounce back! good Luck!

      • creamsickle


        How is his comment racist? Seems to me you may be doing a little stereotyping yourself. La Tunza could be a name from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

  • Hatchetwoman

    He’s on administrative leave because the investigation is still ongoing. I don’t work at Airports, but I can tell you that until an investigation is completed, administrative leave is the best legal option for the employer. To put him off without pay would mean that he was “suspended” without due process. No discrimination here.

    Further, if you refused to sign a Last Chance Agreement, the employer doesn’t really have any choice BUT to fire you. A Last Chance Agreement means that you really should be fired, but they are giving you one last chance. I would have signed it if I were you and then reformed my behavior and performance at work. And yes, I’m a disciplinary hearing officer for a government agency, so I know what I’m talking about. Your own bad judgment got you here, not any supposed discrimination.

  • null

    They say they need more money but they won’t fire anyone.

  • ginny

    I travel in and out of LAX almost weekly for work and I put nothing other than clothes in my check-in bag. Everything else is in my carry-on. When I go through the scanners, I never let my carry-on and purse out of my sight. It does not go through the xray machine until I can pass through the line at the same time.

    If I am going on a long trip I only take a carry-on and ship my clothes, etc. via FedEx and itcosts less then the airline bag fees and always is there when I arrive at my destination.

  • Jeff

    Why are any of you surprised? Have you seen the disgusting “people” who work at LAX? Bunch of obese gorillas or saggy pant wearing gang bangers. Stop withholding the truth under the guise of being politically correct. The reason this is the case is because most workers at LAX are black or Mexican.

    • Brian

      I find the TSA high un professional they should be fired for taking up un wanted space peeps playing on there cell phones looking like slobs just because they are tsa dosen’t mean the terriost can’t take them out you and you only are your best protection tsa and fema are one and the same both lazy and un helpful
      am hoping to get falsely arresdted so I can sue the hell out DHS and everyone connected

    • Dana

      Do you wnat that JOB…oh u might be above that huh! u are yet another racist person on here! that talks big on line and nervous as hell when u hit the street! some of you racist ass people need a life! well at least they thought enough to go out and work! go figure!

  • prw

    TO JEFF: Oh so the wanna-be White Gangster in the video is not guilty of anything? I know U saw the tats on his arm, and probably only has a Jr high education, but U want to call out the Blks & the Mexicans?

    Cracka Heads always hiding behind the internet….say what U just wrote in the middle of LA.

    • dana

      lol! @ PRW! so TRUE! so TRUE!

    • Michael

      It’s not racism if it’s true, prw. Are you trying to say that blacks and mexicans aren’t responsible for this? What about crime, are blacks and mexicans not responsible for most of the violent crime in LA? Go to LAPD’s website and look at their most wanted list. Notice anything? It’s hilarious how idiots like yourself cry “racism!!” when in fact it’s the truth. Maybe if your people stopped murdering raping and robbing, people like Jeff wouldn’t have to say such truths. You idiot.

      • DEE

        @ Micheal!………. and WHITE people steal Big money! well i guess they arent that SMART as you are! well if you feel that way Billy bad ass then tell them how you feel when you walk your happy go lucky stankin ass up in there! I guess those 2 races are on the LAPD websiite and white folks are on the FBI most wanted list! GET A LIFE! Sucka!

  • perfihk6

    perfumy dla ciebie

  • Kathy L.

    another victim here-“lost” a digital camera and lenses worth over a grand. my husband believes he saw the shuttle driver with a bag carrying something similar to my camera bag when we went on the search for it. why didn’t he confront the guy??? since that day, we’ve been on a wild goose chase from one lost and found to another, from one police department from another, from one contact at lax to another. it’s ridiculous just trying to file a claim!!! anyone have any info about how to file a claim?

    • creamsickle

      Stop wasting your time. You’re never going to see this stuff again.

  • Jay l.

    This is too funny even when I have a carry one digital SLR they tricked me and stolen both camera and lens. They took my carry on and says they need to split it into 5 different trays. Then they offered to put them back together and it just happens that my camera and lens was not put back into my carry one luggage. It wasn’t notice until my plane took off, I found my camera gone. And when I try to call to claim with TSA all I get was their voice mail. Which was totally useless because it says if we find it, we will contact you. But you never know what steps they are doing to look for your valuable items, or if they are even looking. They should seriously review all the tapes they have which they are recording.

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  • Joshua

    Press 2 for spanish…

    Look around who is likely handling your luggage then you will know why. Airliners do not enforce a strict requirement to have “these” area of worker to speak english. When that happen, that put your valuables at risk because you don’t know what you are actually dealing with. It’s just like you are handing over your briefcase to a stranger in Tijuna. You will be blessed if you didn’t lose anything. Oh, hide the food stamp too, they love it.

  • nate

    Its a shame how we as people are against one another, and the bad old terroist is just waiting for the moment to blow us all straight to hell, while we steal and rob one another with words of HATE!!!!!! how long is it going to take for we as a people to come together and see the BIG PICTURE.

  • Stanton

    I wish someone would do a news special on this and really expose TSA and the theft that happens. I have now had three different times something stollen from my checked backs. Most recently on last Monday. The only people that can really do something here is the news and expose the theft and our rights are being abused with TSA. I would hope that CBS news would do a television story on this soon.

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