Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Government Security The Almighty Buck Transportation Technology Idle

TSA Makes $400K Annually In Loose Change 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the nickel-and-dime dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "NBC reports that airport travelers left behind $409,085.56 in loose change at security checkpoints in 2010, providing an additional source of funding for the Transportation Security Administration. 'TSA puts (the leftover money) in a jar at the security checkpoint, at the end of each shift they take it, count it, put it in an envelope and send it to the finance office,' says TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez. 'It is amazing. All that change, it all adds up.' Melendez adds that the money goes into the general operating budget for TSA that is typically used for technology, light bulbs or just overall general expenses. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) has introduced legislation that would direct the TSA to transfer unclaimed money recovered at airport security checkpoints to the United Service Organizations (USO), a private nonprofit that operates centers for the military at 41 U.S. airports. The recovered change is not to be confused with the theft that occurs when TSA agents augment their salary by helping themselves to the contents of passengers' luggage as it passes through security checkpoints. For example in 2009, a half dozen TSA agents at Miami International Airport were charged with grand theft after boosting an iPod, bottles of perfume, cameras, a GPS system, a Coach purse, and a Hewlett Packard Mini Notebook from passengers' luggage as travelers at just this one airport reported as many as 1,500 items stolen, the majority of which were never recovered."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

TSA Makes $400K Annually In Loose Change

Comments Filter:
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:37PM (#38687386)

    at the end of each shift they take it, count it, divide most of it up amongst themselves, and put it in their pockets

    FTFY.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:43PM (#38687496)

      I, for one, am happy that the TSA is staffed by people who seem to hate their job as much as we do. The alternative, that an arm of totalitarianism is entirely staffed by people who are ideologically committed, would be far worse.

    • by arisvega (1414195) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:49PM (#38687610)
      Those elements in the TSA are a fucking embarassement to both their agency and their country; that behavior should not be tolerated, and this situation can be easily remedied with heavy penalties that will act as a warning to the rest of the TSA lot that is there to loot while in uniform.
      • by JobyOne (1578377) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:54PM (#38687706) Homepage Journal

        Their entire agency is already a fucking embarrassment to their country, a few agents "stealing" abandoned pocket change pales in comparison.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        If you have to keep your employees in line with threats and monitoring, then your primary problem is with the people who gave them the job in the first place.

        Perhaps the TSA shouldn't have just settled for the least-bad applicants who bothered to show up.

        • by Anrego (830717) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:11PM (#38687968)

          Low paying crummy jobs tend not to attract the best candidates.

        • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:59PM (#38688686) Homepage

          You DO know how the TSA recruits people, right...? They put adverts on pizza delivery boxes [bonnint.net]

          You couldn't make this shit up it you if you hired a whole team of comedy writers...

          • by CCarrot (1562079)

            You DO know how the TSA recruits people, right...? They put adverts on pizza delivery boxes [bonnint.net]

            You couldn't make this shit up it you if you hired a whole team of comedy writers...

            And yet, the best part of all is the come-on at the top [bonnint.net]

            Really illustrates their target demographic: immature dropouts who fall for those 'x-ray vision' glasses ads...and who love pizza, of course!

        • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday January 13, 2012 @02:09PM (#38688878)

          As someone who's administered TSA testing in the past, thus having seen the "tests" first hand, I assure you, they're not looking for people that think for themselves. They want idiot drones that do what they're told, no matter what.

          In a given day I'd have maybe 2 applicants out of 10 that didn't look like straight up gang members (and half of them looked like crystal meth tweakers, I shit you not), and based on what I'm hearing from family members in the service, the military is starting to have it's share of gang-bangers, too. Which makes sense, if you think about it: who's more likely to argue with an order or take a stand based on their principles, someone with an education and respect for human rights, or someone that was raised on the streets in a dog-eat-dog world?

          Plus, now that the TSA is expanding to domestic rail service, highways, and sporting events, it won't be long before these state sponsored criminals are shaking us down at checkpoints all over the place, just like in Mexico or any other third world country.

          So, sing with me, boys and girls: AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!!

      • Those elements in the TSA are a fucking embarassement to both their agency and their country; that behavior should not be tolerated, and this situation can be easily remedied with heavy penalties that will act as a warning to the rest of the TSA lot that is there to loot while in uniform.

        Heavy penalties, like hanging pickpockets?

        http://aler.oxfordjournals.org/content/4/2/295.abstract [oxfordjournals.org]

        Findings suggest that 76% of active criminals and 89% of the most violent criminals either perceive no risk of apprehension or are incognizant of the likely punishments for their crimes.

    • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:51PM (#38687650)

      Exactly. The TSA reported that they collected $409,085.56 in loose change. But how much else went unreported that was left behind? The TSA guy making a low annual salary doesn't pocket half of the money that he finds, or splits it up with the rest of the low level employees? Or how many guys don't even bother to report any left behind change at all?

      The manager doesn't skim a little off of the top before sending in the money to the TSA headquarters? If someone gives him $50 in change he might not pocket a few dollars here and there? The TSA headquarters president doesn't skim a little off of the top before reporting the money? You get $750K in coins and you might skim a thousand dollars worth, right? It's all part of the game.

      This is like when a drug dealer gets pulled over with $15,000. By the time the money makes it to the station it magically becomes $10,000. Then somewhere in between the time the money enters the station and is processed it becomes $5,000. It's just part of the game.

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I grew up with a guy that didn't have a lot going for him, not a lot of ambition, who finally decided it was time for work, and became a State Trooper. He told me that once when he was searching a crime scene he found a box with almost $300 thousand in it, and none of his fellow officers saw him find it. I asked him if he kept it, because it's the kind of thing I would do: There was plenty of other evidence, the money was not stolen and had no rightful owner to which it could be returned.

        No, he turned it

        • by rsborg (111459)

          I grew up with a guy that didn't have a lot going for him, not a lot of ambition, who finally decided it was time for work, and became a State Trooper. He told me that once when he was searching a crime scene he found a box with almost $300 thousand in it, and none of his fellow officers saw him find it. I asked him if he kept it, because it's the kind of thing I would do: There was plenty of other evidence, the money was not stolen and had no rightful owner to which it could be returned.

          No, he turned it in.

          $300K sitting around spells danger. I wouldn't have taken it, as a) it might cost me my job which I like and b) dangerous folks might come looking to reclaim it, surreptitiously.

          No, your friend probably did the right thing for him in the long run: avoid the risk that comes with a large pile of cash sitting around. However, skimming a bit off the top of millions of pockets of change - no risk in that.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Yeah, now it counts as seized assets and it becomes part of the operating budget of the police department.

          If there's even a *hint* of drugs in your vehicle, it's seized. Home? Seized. Oh, you have more than $10,000 cash on hand? Why? You're a drug dealed - seized.

          You wanna talk opportunity for corruption...

          I really do try my best to be an honest person, but more and more I'm seeing stuff that makes me think I'm a sucker for playing fair when so many people (especially our government) are stacking the deck i

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            I really do try my best to be an honest person, but more and more I'm seeing stuff that makes me think I'm a sucker for playing fair when so many people (especially our government) are stacking the deck in their favor as much as possible

            In a strictly free market, capitalistic mindset, yes playing fair makes you a sucker - you should lie, cheat and steal in order to get ahead.

            In a more holistic view though, playing fair lets you sleep at night, or to look at your children (or significant other) and admit to

      • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday January 13, 2012 @03:12PM (#38689930) Journal

        The TSA guy making a low annual salary doesn't pocket half of the money that he finds, or splits it up with the rest of the low level employees?

        Well, let's run some numbers.

        $409,056.56 divided by about 450 airports is $909 per airport. We're talking about a year, so divide that by 365 and we're talking about an average of $2.49 per day per airport. Figure that an entry level security screen makes a little over $10 per hour [payscale.com] and he's basically getting the equivalent of 15 minutes.

        Yup. These guys are makin' bank, I'll tell you.

    • It would be interesting to see how much change is really taken. Perhaps one could determine, on average, the ratio of large denomination coins to small denomination coins carried in travelers' pockets. We could call this ratio A. We could then compare this ratio to that of the money collected and turned in by TSA agents - Ratio B. I think it's safe to assume that TSA agents are more likely to be selective of the coins they keep if, indeed, they keep some. I would suspect that ratio B would differ subst

    • by trout007 (975317) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:35PM (#38688346)

      As a teenager I worked at Six Flags Great Adventure on the Great American Scream Machine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Scream_Machine_(Six_Flags_Great_Adventure) [wikipedia.org]

      The way the seats were deep bucket seats and at the end of the night we would look under all of the seat pads and would find about $40 daily in change in the three trains. We would divide it up among the 8 people working the ride and it was enough to buy some drinks and snacks.

    • by bfields (66644)

      at the end of each shift they take it, count it, divide most of it up amongst themselves, and put it in their pockets

      FTFY.

      A few ways of looking at that $400k figure:

      - Assuming 50k TSA employees (from wikipedia), that's $8 a year each. So in a good week they find two dimes.
      - The TSA budget is about 8 billion. This is one two-thousandth of a percent of their budget.
      - The 2012 budget is a few trillion. If congress passed a bill like Jeff Miller's every hour of every day that would cover... um, I think I have this right... one tenth of one percent of the budget. Looking to cut government waste? How about electing people who w

    • I believe there are something like 40,000 TSA employees. Assuming they take 90% of it and what they send in represents 10% they are pulling in about $90 per year on average. Quite a racket they got going there.
  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:41PM (#38687458)
    Great. The we should decrease their budget by at lease this much for the next fiscal year.
  • I believe it (Score:4, Informative)

    by wandazulu (265281) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:42PM (#38687472)

    I pick up every coin I find and put it in a large jar. Once it's full I take it to the bank and, though it really upsets the teller to have to deal with it, I end up netting around $300. Granted it takes a few years, but every little bit helps. :\

    • by Pope (17780)

      I spend my change as I accumulate it, keeping it in the change pocked in my wallet. Very often I'll clear it out completely when I grab a coffee. Beats keeping it in a jar.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      You could train the local crows to do it for you...

      Like this guy [ted.com]

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:45PM (#38687540) Homepage

    That loose change was mine. I'd like to reclaim it.

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:46PM (#38687546)

    All the stuff they take from you is auctioned off, as well. [eyeflare.com]

    The TSA is just taking the DEA's lead. They've been funding themselves by taking property from "drug dealers" for decades. For instance, in many states, if you get busted in your car with drugs, the state can take your car, even if it's personal use amounts. Unless, of course, you still owe money on it, than they'll let you keep it so that you are obligated to make those payments, of course.

    This is nothing more than thievery masquerading as a public service, but then again, one could say the same about a lot of facets of our government as of late...

    • by sribe (304414)

      Unless, of course, you still owe money on it, than they'll let you keep it so that you are obligated to make those payments, of course.

      Uhm, no. They take it anyway, and you still owe the payments. (Or at least that's how it is in some status for DUI.)

      • Bummer I just had a business idea. I'll loan you $100 against your car. you owe me payments of $5/month. The interest is $60/year...
        -nB

    • by Nadaka (224565)

      You don't even have to be convicted. All property involved in a drug arrest can be seized and sold at auction before trial. If you are acquitted,found innocent, or even prove that it was a complete framejob at most you will get a form letter apologizing for the inconvenience.

      • by witherstaff (713820) on Friday January 13, 2012 @03:34PM (#38690236) Homepage

        Local Police can be just as bad. We had an employee stealing things from work, from simple plumbing fittings to electronic controls. A few thousand worth of gear. His roommate turned hi in, police took everything for evidence. We were told once the evidence was not needed they would let us know. We called a few weeks later since we hadn't heard anything - He pleaded to some charge, no trial, they sold the stuff at auction. We couldn't even get the money they got for selling out things.

        So we were robbed, twice.

  • by SiMac (409541) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:46PM (#38687554) Homepage

    Why doesn't he just create a bill to give $400,000 of taxpayer money to the USO? It's the same thing financially as redirecting this money that currently goes into the general budget to a private organization, but I guess it sounds better the way he puts it?

    Then again, $400,000 is not that much money in the first place. He and a couple wealthy friends could almost certainly cover it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmac_the_man (1612215)
      The point is to discourage the TSA from taking this money. He had to pick some charity, and realistically, nobody is going to object to it being the USO.
      • by KPU (118762)

        How about paying off the national debt?

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Because, assuming the bill is permanent (instead of a one-off authorization) you have created $400,000 in government debt hoping that you recover that much from the TSA. Any year they recover less, you're in the hole. And of course there would need to be another portion of the bill directing the TSA to return what it does collect to the government at large, since they are currently keeping it in their own coffers.

      Now granted, $400,000 in the scope of the government is a rounding error, but why let a pro

  • Also alcohol (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:46PM (#38687556)
    At the international arrivals area in Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, you go through security after you pick up your bags, go through customs, and recheck your bags. Many passengers forget to put their duty free alcohol in their bags before they recheck them, and try to carry them through security, where they are told to either check the alcohol or have it confiscated. I worked for an airline back there for several summers and would often have to check the alcohol, but sometimes they would just leave it with us(got a bottle of Absinthe this way). Once I asked a TSA guy what they did with all the alcohol they confiscated. He said that at the end of the day they were packaged up and sent off site for destruction and disposal. But we always figured that the TSA screeners would help themselves to any good stuff before they sent it off.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Only the USA and China make you take your bags through customs at your point of entry. So even ex-Soviet states are more convenient to travel to.

      • Only the USA and China make you take your bags through customs at your point of entry

        Canada too.

        Imagine you're flying London -> Los Angeles -> Fresno. When should your bags go through customs? Fresno? Does that mean everyone flying Los Angeles -> Fresno should go through customs? The fact that you connect to an internal domestic flight means this is the only way to make this work.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          No, it means just the bags that were checked in London and end up in Fresno.

          So 3 nations do it that way, everyone else does it the right way. I fly to Germany quite a bit and always land in Frankfurt then go to Stuttgart. I do customs in Stuttgart.

        • by treeves (963993)

          The question is not whether or not the bags should go through customs. They should. The question is whether one should have to carry them themselves through customs. One should not.

    • "Sent off site for destruction and disposal" means "someone takes it home, drinks it, and recycles the bottle".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:46PM (#38687560)

    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/flyingwithfish/2010/11/20/how-the-tsa-legally-circumvents-the-fourth-amendment/

    Yet, Americans are sheep and will do nothing. According to CNN, 80% of Americans are in favor of the mm wave scanners in spite of the fact that they haven't caught a single terrorist. Ever, and they appear to be no more than 20% effective in catching weapons. And in spite of the fact that the USA is going to die under the burden of excessive debt, yet we spend tens of billions on useless agencies like the TSA. In spite of the fact that the TSA is now trying to move into other areas like buses, trains, and even roadside stops.

    "Papers please"... didn't we used to ridicule the former Soviet Union for that very same thing?

    But as long as people don't care about their civil rights, they will continue to lose them. As long as people continue to be driven by irrational fear, they won't care about their civil rights.

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      20% of Egypt was up in arms about it's leadership, too. That's not a small enough percentage of the population to safely marginalize.

      You'd be amazed what 20% of the population can do, voting in a block. With only 60% voter turnout in a typical Presidential election, unless almost every other voter chooses another candidate (and by that, I mean the same other candidate), that's enough to solidly tip the balance to a different politician or party.

  • That might be the most frugal thing a federal agency has ever done.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      As much as one bashes the inefficiency of government, I've contracted with large companies and have seen a lot of bloat and BS there also. While not quite as bad as typical gov't, it's pretty close. Big organizations are just that way.

  • by mbone (558574) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:51PM (#38687656)

    When I was in the Government, keeping any money you made "on the side" was a big no-no. You could (in some cases) charge for expenses, but otherwise, if you made any money, it had to go to the Treasury.

    Under our system of government, the Congress sets the budget for government activities. Setting up some branch of government as a money making entity, and thereby evading the oversight and control of Congress, is flat out unconstitutional. Now, I know that this is literally small change, but still...

  • by Tablizer (95088)

    They make even more selling pocket lint to coat factories.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:53PM (#38687696) Homepage Journal

    They rape and pillage.

  • How much did they pay in salaries to count it and handling to send it to the financial office, where it's undoubtedly counted again, then deposited in a bank. If they're doing that at the end of each shift, in over 100 airports, 2-3 shifts per day. It might be cheaper to just tell the TSOs to put it in their pocket.

  • by NoSleepDemon (1521253) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:58PM (#38687772)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for bashing the TSA and their dubious practices in the name of 'security' when it's warranted, but whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I'm referring to the extremely obvious bias (bordering on the Faux News drooling fanatic level) in the article summary:

    "The recovered change is not to be confused with the theft that occurs when TSA agents augment their salary by helping themselves to the contents of passengers' luggage as it passes through security checkpoints."

    This isn't particularly relevant to the news post, other than to immediately bias readers into thinking that the TSA steals all that change and lines its coffers with it, when in fact it might just be left behind by passengers as the news article implies. What are they supposed to do? Sprint after a group of passengers and ask them if this is their quarter? Hate to say it, but ever since CmdrTaco left, the quality of Slashdot news posts has fallen noticeably.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      They should try not stealing so much stuff.

      • Well yes what they're doing is a little dodgy, but it's the TSA - I doubt they need any further introduction. Their practices are well documented, and no one liked airport security / baggage handlers in the first place even before the TSA popularized hatred towards them, so in my opinion, the extra poke is unnecessary and brings down the quality of the submission.
  • Look after the cents and the dollars will look after them selves.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:07PM (#38687912) Homepage Journal

    No, Florida Republican, do not give the loose change to the military service corporation. I know you want to ensure that all money goes to one kind of military subsidy or another. But you created the TSA, with its vast budgets largely wasted on abusing Americans and subsidizing contractors. Its security theater subsidizes the military by pretending to protect us, while militarizing routine travel which of course paves the way for more military and more military subsidies. Making the military further dependent on the TSA's unnecessary operations that generate that loose change further ensures we'll be doing TSA dances forever.

    Keeping the loose change reducing the debt spending you created its budget out of is an efficiency. Leave well enough alone, despite your grabby Florida Republican instinct to make a bad thing even worse, and forever.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      You do realize what the USO does, right? Giving this money to the USO would in no stretch of the imagination constitute "military subsidy". For starters, most of the people working for the USO are volunteers. They set up places in airports where soldiers can get food, internet access, and phone cards. They assist with travel and give soldiers a place where they can relax in the airport. They provide shows for the troops by bringing paid acts overseas. The military is in no way dependent on the USO. I
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Of course I know what the USO does. I'm all for it, which is why I'm OK with spending my tax money on it (directly, and in its tax exemption). It offloads work that the direct Pentagon budget would have to spend on to keep morale in our troops, especially the way we abuse them with lying them into wars, forced retention, cut benefits after the action, etc. That is how the USO subsidizes the military. Take off your blinders on how we spend money on the military every which way.

  • They have some common cents.

  • by Scutter (18425) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:11PM (#38687966) Journal

    Step 1 - Force people into situations where they're likely to have things fall out of their pockets
    Step 2 - Collect all found things and put them in your own pockets
    Step 3 - Profit!

    Sounds like theft to me. You make it a profit center and the bosses start including incentives to maintain that budget line item. "Hey, you guys didn't shake down enough...'customers'...this week! We're not going to be able to give you a bonus this quarter."

    If they really want me to believe that this isn't theft, they should be donating all proceeds from lost and confiscated items to charity. An ACTUAL charity, I mean, not the TSA Agent's Retirement Collective 501c.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      If they really want me to believe that this isn't theft, they should be donating all proceeds from lost and confiscated items to charity. An ACTUAL charity, I mean, not the TSA Agent's Retirement Collective 501c.

      Um, isn't this kind of what the proposed bill would do?

  • Leave them metal slugs, slabs of wooden dowel, low-value foreign currency. Make 'em work for it!

  • I hate how companies tell us where some specific source of income goes. Even if it doesn't just go into a big pool of budget money, then some part of a budget somewhere is changed so that other money is available for other purposes.
    The bottom line... if $300k can be added to the overall budget, then that's $300k more that can go to paying a CEO's bonus.

    It's not like they weren't going to replace light bulbs without this money.

  • If they are stealing laptops and iPhones, why wouldn't they pocket much less traceable loose change?
  • When you put it in that perspective, it's not so much money :). Consider that there are over 50,000 union TSA agents (non-managers)
  • And much did it cost in salary plus overhead to pay TSA employees to count that change by hand? I doubt they broke even on it much less came out ahead. Let's see, 450 airports x 365 work days x 2 shift changes per year x $20/hour loaded labor rate x 0.1 hours (estimated) to count, record, and process the change = $657K / year. So by my estimate the TSA had a net waste of $157K counting this change.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.

Working...