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TSA agent accused of plucking $5,000 from passenger's pocket

A Transportation Security Administration agent is accused of taking $5,000 in cash from a passenger’s jacket as it moved along the security checkpoint conveyor belt at JFK International Airport on the evening of Feb. 1.

TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said the theft was first reported by another officer on duty at the checkpoint who witnessed the incident.

“TSA notified local law enforcement, which arrested the officer, who has been a TSA employee for 4 ½ years,” said Farbstein in a statement.  

A police spokesman told the Associated Press that a surveillance video shows the agent, Alexandra Schmid, wrapping the money in a plastic glove and taking it to a bathroom, where it may have been given to another person. The money has not yet been recovered. Schmid has been charged with grand larceny, according to NBC New York.

Meanwhile, in Texas, the TSA has put one of its Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport employees on administrative leave for allegedly stealing iPads from travelers.

WFAA.com reports that bag screener Clayton Keith Dovel, an employee in the behind-the-scenes "Resolution Room," where officers inspect checked bags by hand, is accused of stealing at least eight iPads from travelers.

The thefts were linked to Dovel when a passenger tracked his missing iPad to Dovel’s home.

Farbstein said TSA “aggressively investigates all allegations of misconduct and, when infractions are discovered, moves swiftly to end the federal careers of offenders.” In these and other cases of officer misconduct, though, the agency is quick to remind the public that “the actions of a few individuals in no way reflect on the outstanding job our 50,000 security officers do every day to ensure the security of the traveling public.”

Still, TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez told msnbc.com there are some things passengers can do to try to insure the safety of their belongings at the airport.

“When I get to the airport, I put my cell phone, my money clip, my keys and any other personal property into a zippered pocket inside my briefcase," said Melendez. “Then everything is in one place and not loose in the bins.”

Melendez also reminds travelers not to put jewelry, iPads, laptops or other expensive items in checked luggage. “Carry them with you,” he said. “Besides the TSA, your checked bag could be handled four or five times by airlines and other entities and by up to 10 different people.”

And don’t assume that if something goes missing it’s been stolen. “Sometimes other passengers pick up the wrong items at the checkpoints,” said Melendez. “And sometimes, in the resolution room, something gets taken out of a bag and someone forgets to put it back.”

Melendez said clear identification on belongings, such as a business card taped to a laptop, goes a long way in helping travelers get their stuff back.  

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