TSA: Atlanta Airport Fourth In Firings For Theft

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ranks No. 4 among the top 20 U.S. airports in firings for employee thefts, according to newly released Transportation Security Administration figures.

Hartsfield-Jackson had 17 firings for employee thefts from 2002 through December 2011, according to data obtained by ABC News under the Freedom of Information Act. The nature of the thefts and when they occurred were not provided.

Atlanta TSA spokesman Jon Allen said it has been more than two years since a local TSA employee was terminated for theft. The agency employs more than 1,000 workers at the airport.

"TSA has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace and takes appropriate action when allegations are substantiated," Allen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

The data obtained by ABC News show nearly 400 TSA workers were fired at major airports on allegations they stole from travelers during the period.

Miami International Airport ranked No. 1 with 29 firings, followed by JFK International in New York (27) and Los Angeles International Airport (24).

Theft-related firings were most prevalent at the largest airports, where traveler traffic is heaviest. Orlando International, with 11 firings, was the only other major airport in the Southeast on the list.

To gauge employees' willingness to steal, ABC News left an iPad at a TSA checkpoint in Orlando and several hours later, using the tablet's "Find Me" app, tracked it to an agent's home 30 miles away. Surveillance showed another agent in Memphis taking a laptop left at a TSA checkpoint and hiding it under a ticket counter. The agent later retrieved the device, draped a jacket over it and walked away. He was later convicted and fired.

Protect yourself

The TSA offers these tips to travelers to reduce the chance of theft:

Never let your belongings out of your sight when possible.

Never pack anything valuable in checked baggage.

Always carry your own purse, wallet, passport and other valuables.

Always watch your belongings as they advance through X-ray equipment.

Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.

Copyright 2012 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution