TSA iPad ABC

Image source: ABC News

An ABC News investigation tracked a missing iPad to the home of a Transportation Security Administration officer in a case of alleged theft.

ABC purposely left behind 10 iPads at TSA checkpoints at airports around the country as part of an investigation into the agency’s problem with theft from passengers. In nine cases, the iPads were returned to their owners, but at one airport in Orlando, the iPad was not given back — and a tracking app later showed the tablet moving away from the airport to the home of the officer last seen handling it.

ABC waited 15 days, then showed up at the home of the officer, Andy Ramirez, to ask him about it. Ramirez denied knowing anything about the missing iPad until the news crew activated an alarm to sound on the device inside his home. Ramirez retrieved the iPad — and then blamed his wife.

“I’m so embarrassed,” he said. “My wife says she got the iPad and brought it home.”

The TSA told ABC that as of Wednesday, Ramirez was no longer employed with the agency and said in a statement it has “a zero-tolerance policy for theft and terminates any employee who is determined to have stolen from a passenger.”

The TSA also said 381 of its agents have been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 so far this year.

A request for comment to the TSA was not immediately returned, including about ABC’s investigation tactics and how the agency plans to combat theft problems for the future.

Last week, a flight attendant in Oregon was arrested after a passenger also used a tracking app to find his missing iPad — a tracked it to her home. Wendy Ronelle Dye said she found the iPad on a seat and planned to turn it in, but police discovered she had also entered some of her personal information into it, including her husband’s birthday.