Alexander Shae Johnson, 22, was arrested Thursday night.
Passenger Kathleen Duddleston entered the TSA checkpoint and was stopped for additional screening, police said.
While she was patted down, Duddleston told TSA security officer Michelle Metz that she couldn’t see her luggage, so Metz moved her closer.
Duddleston complained again that she couldn’t see her bag, and Johnson moved slightly.
After the pat-down, Duddleston reached for her bag and could not find her money, police said.
She said she noticed a bulge in Johnson’s left front shirt pocket.
Duddleston asked Johnson if that was her money, and he said he got the money from the bank, police said.
The woman complained to Metz that she believed Johnson stole money from her. Metz then contacted her supervisor.
Video surveillance showed that Johnson reached into the passenger’s bag, took an undetermined amount of money and put it in his left shirt pocket, police said.
Citing an ongoing investigation, police said the video would not be released at this time.
Passenger Linda Sloan said feeling secure at the airport is very important to her, and hearing about this type of incident was disturbing.
"We need to trust that we will be taken care of," Sloan said. "We need to trust these people.
Somebody to steal something like that is completely, it demoralizes the TSA itself."
Johnson was arrested and charged with third-degree grand theft.
TSA said in a statement to Eyewitness News:
“TSA has a zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace.
“The TSA immediately reported the allegation to OPD and we aggressively investigated the incident with our law enforcement partner. TSA officers represent a professional and honorable workforce that is trained to treat passengers and their personal belongings with care and respect. No exceptions will be tolerated. We immediately ended the federal career of this individual. ”
Channel 9’s Samantha Manning is following this developing story.
Johnson posted bail and is out of the Orange County Jail.
No one answered at Johnson's home when Channel 9 knocked on the door seeking comment on the arrest.
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