TSA screener Pythias Brown
"It became so easy, I got complacent," Brown told ABC News.
Nearly 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing since 2003, according to the agency, which is charged with providing security for passengers and freight.
But Brown says the fired TSA officers might be the tip of the iceberg.
Theft “was very commonplace. Very,” he said.
Lax oversight only adds to the problem.
“They [TSA managers] never searched our bags, they never searched us. Nothing.”
He said most of the valuable items are taken out of carry-on bags that pass through screenings and X-ray machines while their owners make their way through security checkpoints and metal detectors.
Two former TSA agents at New York's Kennedy Airport, Persad Coumar, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, were sentenced to six months in jail this year for blatantly making off with a bag full of cash.
Persad was working an airport X-ray machine when he spotted the $40,000, which belonged to a drug mule.
Critics of the TSA say the alleged culture of theft comes as little surprise.
"TSA is probably the worst personnel manager that we have in the entire federal government," Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told ABC.
"It is an outrage to the public and, actually, to our aviation security system.”