About a year ago, I was making my way through TSA security at San Antonio International Airport heading to Houston on a 5:30 a.m. flight. Going through security changed significantly after 9/11, and we are now required to remove our laptop from our bag and place it in a separate bin. |
I made it to the security checkpoint about 4:50 a.m., and I began the routine that I’ve done hundreds of times before: take off my jacket, remove my shoes and belt, place the laptop in the bin, and so on. The issue here is that I’m too used to the process that I often take it for granted.
Stealing the Laptop
At some point during the security process, a couple placed their two bins between my property, essentially separating my MacBook Pro from me. I made it to the other side of the x-ray machine, collected my belongings, and headed to my gate. After arriving at the United Airlines aircraft, I decided to review some work on my laptop. I reached into my roller bag – no laptop! I had a few minutes before the final call was made for the flight, so I decided to run back to the security checkpoint. I checked with TSA, but there was no MacBook Pro. I began thinking that I left it at home, but knew that was highly unlikely.
After arriving in Houston for my seminar, I called the San Antonio Airport Police, and they retrieved the video for the period I passed through security. The video revealed that a middle-aged man behind the couple grabbed the laptop and put it in his bag.
The police officer on the phone said stated, “This is a good theft.” I guess this means that the evidence was clear.
With the person’s face on video, the airport police tracked the individual to his gate. Interestingly, he was on my flight to Houston, and connecting to Las Vegas. I submitted a police report, but was told that little could be done. They were not going to spend the resources to extradite someone from Las Vegas for a computer theft.
The San Antonio Police Department did inform me, thought, that if this thief returned to Texas, he could be in legal trouble. In early December 2012, he was arrested in San Antonio. I’m unsure what led to the arrest, but it’s likely a traffic violation.
For stealing a laptop that is valued at more than $1,500, this individual is now facing a felony charge. When I last spoke with the prosecutor’s representative, I was told that it could take several months before the case is tried. He’ll have to sit in jail until the trial date, or the judge grants probation.
An interesting piece to this story is that several weeks before the theft, I spilled real hot Starbucks coffee on the MacBook. The search function was too slow, and it took nearly five minutes to boot. In fact, I had already purchased a new one, but was slowly migrating to it.
Stealing a laptop is a risky proposition. It’s even more risky, and perhaps stupid, to steal one at a major international airport where many cameras are watching our every move.
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