CLEVELAND NC Nov 22 2016 - Passengers nationwide have filed more than 59,000 claims for lost, stolen or damaged property, according to a WKYC Channel 3 review of TSA records from 2010-2015.
Those same records show that TSA has paid passengers $3,952,771 for their losses.
"That's outrageous. That many items shouldn't have been lost or stolen," said Sue Lanning, who spoke from the baggage claim at Hopkins airport.
Cleveland Hopkins International paid passengers $16,133 based on 280 claims travelers filed.
John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York had the most claims with 4006.
TSA pays claims after conducting investigations to determine if its agents were responsible.
The agency made a full or partial payment in 39 percent of all cases.
"That's pretty bad. That's horrible. And this is something that was no fault of their own," said Clevelander Joe Muttillo.
Records show common items that turned up missing or damaged include jewelry, computers, wallets, purses and cameras.
TSA told WKY Channel 3 it has a zero tolerance approach to theft. One report says the agency fired more than 500 officers for theft since 2003. TSA declined a request for an on-camera interview but said it aggressively investigates all allegations of misconduct. The agency said "the actions of a few individuals in no way reflect on the outstanding job our more than 45,000 security officers do every day to ensure the security of the traveling public."
TSA is required to report passenger claims because its employees work for the government and any settlements with passengers are paid with taxpayer dollars.
The General Accounting Office found in 2011 that TSA workers received incomplete and inadequate background checks. But in a follow-up investigation conducted last year, the GAO discovered that TSA began screening TSA applicants thoroughly.
They're working with the public and obviously with peoples personal belongings.They should undergo a background check," said passenger Colleen Carroll.
TSA encourages passengers to file claims immediately if they find that their valuables are lost or damaged. An on-line form is provided on its website.