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One of the big travel news stories from this week concerned a flight attendant who was caught stealing an $8,000 bracelet from a TSA line.

According to The Washington Post: “A woman identified as a Republic Airways flight attendant was arrested Monday at Reagan National Airport after authorities said she took a passenger’s bracelet set from a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint.

RELATED: 10 Airport Security Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know

“Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said Rebecca Valley, 60, of Wesley Chapel, Fla., works for the regional carrier and was charged with one count of grand larceny. The owner of the jewelry reported that it was valued at $8,000, Nosal said.”

This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that something gets stolen at a security checkpoint. It’s too easy and it’s easy to see why someone who is desperate would try this since so many travelers are oblivious.

A few more details about the flight attendant who was charged can be found in this video:

YouTube video

I once had a passenger in front of me put his carry-on bags on the conveyor belt and his phone, wallet and car keys in a little bin, then went through the metal detector. Of course, it went off since he was wearing a large Rolex watch, so he put that in a bin which, by then, ended up behind my bag, which was already in the machine.

RELATED: Why Your Electronic Devices Should Always Be Charged When Going Through Security

The man of course was in a hurry, like so many travelers and he forgot to take his watch on the other side. I noticed it and had to yell to him that he’d forgotten the expensive watch. But if I were a thief, I could easily have grabbed it. Fortunately, there are tons of security cameras so many thieves do get caught but not all, which is why I’m sharing these tips for going through security checkpoints:

1. Leave the expensive stuff at home
These days it’s just too dangerous to have flashy jewelry and accessories. Just leave them at home to be on the safe side. Also, follow home robberies are now a nasty trend, just another reason not to sport anything too flashy.

2. Place your belongings in your carry-on or jacket
Always put your valuables and everything else like your wallet, phone and keys in your carry-on bag, making it more difficult for thieves to grab.

3. Push your bags through the machine
Always push your belongings through the x-ray machine. If there’s a long line of bags but no line at the metal detector, wait until your bags are in the machine.

4. Never take your eyes off of your belongings
I once had a TSA agent yell at me because I got called for random secondary screening and as he was wanding me, I kept my head turned towards the conveyor belt. He told me to look straight ahead. I said, “Sorry, but I’m not taking my eyes off my bag.”

5. Label your belongings
Always label your phone, laptop and bag, with your name and phone number or email just in case you leave it behind. This way, the agents can quickly have you paged over the PA system. Most people aren’t thieves and most of the missing items were left by mistake but have no identification so they have no idea who it belongs to.

6. Wear a Scottevest
When I’m traveling during cold months, I wear a Scottevest jacket, which acts as a third carry-on, has 20+ pockets, including secret ones. I keep my phone, wallet, glasses and other things in the pockets and just place the whole thing in a bin on the conveyor belt. Full disclosure: Scottevest is a former sponsor but I still recommend their products because I truly love them. You can check out Scottevest products here and on Amazon.

My vigilance doesn’t stop at security – especially on long flights where there have been an uptick in in-flight thefts. Here’s how I protect my bags/valuables on planes.

14 Comments On "Flight Attendant Caught Stealing Bracelet at Security Checkpoint - Here's How to Protect Your Belongings"
  1. BigIsland|

    This story reminded me of a recent trip in which the TSA agent gave me a hard time. I was waiting for my bag to go on the conveyor belt before I stepped through the metal detector. She barked at me as though I were doing something bad. I explained why I was waiting, but she acted like I was a bad person.

  2. Beverly Kupfer|

    Well they did the same thing to us at JFK my husband had an engagement ring in his backpack being in the army he checked before he put the bag through the x ray machine,walked through the metal detector, open his backpack when it came through NO RING so now he tells me he had a ring and was going to ask me to marry him in Rome .While we are looking everywhere for the ring the TSA person accused me of lying because I had no idea about the ring.While my husband is looking everywhere for the ring we see a lady standing by the entrance of the TSA line my husband asks her if she saw a box with a ring on the floor around her.She puts up a pointer finger and walks right to the x-ray machine bends over and pulls out the ring she does that and they all scatter and a new crew come in.My husband was so thankful and went down on one knee in the airport and proposed.?it made me happy but sad that they ruined it for me and him.

  3. Marlene Conroy|

    This shouldn’t surprise any of us!!!!!!!!

  4. Mark|

    Early on after 911, I had a Kindle taken from my tray while I was being wanded. I yelled as the guy started walking with it and an alert TSA guy chased him down & retrieved it. I keep my eyes on my stuff at all times.

  5. Cathleen Clark|

    A few years ago, my husband and I were going through the security line at Heathrow and it was extremely busy. We put dutifully placed our luggage on the conveyor belt and waited to go through the line. The guy in front of us was stopped for some reason, but our belongings continued through. There was swarms of people at the other end. We lost sight of our luggage and as a result, someone stole my expensive camera. I immediately notified Heathrow staff, but they were very uninterested in pursuing it. They gave us a card and “told us to call about it later”. It was very upsetting, but I learned a good lesson. Now, I go through first and my husband waits at the other end with our luggage and belongings. I position myself right next to the conveyor belt and wait for our belongings. It works like a charm and we have never been ripped off again. :)

  6. Anonymous|

    Oh, Johnny! This is a wonderful idea. My husband will be going to Peru in Dec., and he has several of those vests. He’ll be sure to follow your advice!
    Then I will be joining him mid-April, and I’ll be sure to wear my vest, too! Great idea! Thanks.

  7. LG|

    Yes, upon leaving Las Vegas several years ago I had money & jewelry in my purse. I did not win the money it was money I had not spent. A TSA male grabbed my purse & was going thru it. His coworker warned him that I was watching him and she made the comment “they leave her with all OUR MONEY”. The male, knowing I was watching him claimed he wanted to see a small bottle of lotion that was in my EXPENSIVE BEAUTIFUL WINTER WHITE ZIPPED FLAP COACH handbag. Keep your eyes on your belonings.

  8. Scott Jordan|

    Thanks for the mention!
    CEO of Scottevest

  9. Manda|

    I never take my jewelry off when going through security! She was stupid for taking it off to begin with….??‍♀️

  10. Diane Troutman|

    I was dumb enough to put my grandchildren’s Christmas presents in my luggage. When I opened my luggage to surprise the children, I got the surprise. Everything was rooted through and all the gifts were gone. American Airlines said they had no way to track down what happened to everything

  11. Dee|

    How about the flight attendants and all others in the public trust, being told and shown that it’s the end of them if they are caught stealing from the public.
    Screen for good character; including self-respect.
    Now this/her friends must be watched. Birds of a feather… Can you imagine what else they have been doing?

  12. Kathy|

    A few years ago we were going through the TSA in the Cancun airport. He put his medication bag and fancy Daytona 500 race hat on the conveyor belt. When it came out the other side one of the agents dumped his bag all over the place. Of course everyone turned to see what was going on. The man kept nattering at him ‘what’s this for? Over and over again. When he went to grab his hat it was gone. He loved that hat and it was a collector’s item. He asked to see the supervisor who finally came out about a half hour later. He kept saying he didn’t speak English. When he asked to see the security tapes they flatly told him no. Our group told him we didn’t want to get thrown in jail as he was never going to see it again. They have a really good scam going. I wonder how many goodies they have stolen at the end of the day.

  13. Buzz|

    A certain ‘element’ who never flew now does.
    This ‘element’ should be encouraged to go Greyhound.
    They should not be crew or passengers.

  14. Kathleen & Raul Pacheco|

    I’ve read each of these suggestions to my husband. He, too, is going to Peru this month. I usually go around April, but haven’t in the last two years because of so much happening lately in Peru. I just stay home. But all of your tips were wonderful, and my husband will remember them each time he goes without me. Thanks!

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