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Another episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA

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Mark SuszkoAnother episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA
by on Oct 18, 2008 at 9:16:47 pm

From a yahoo posting:

The TSA reached a mind-boggling new low in customer service this week when it was revealed that one agent had single-handedly absconded with over $200,000 worth of travelers' belongings, primarily cameras and laptops, and proceeded to unload his booty on eBay. His latest haul: A near-$50,000 camera that an HBO employee had been traveling with.

The culprit is one Pythias Brown, a New Jersey resident who worked in the TSA department at Newark Liberty Airport. Finally busted, police discovered an inventory of 66 cameras, 31 laptops, assorted jewelry, and more when they searched his home. How'd he finally get caught? Brown snagged a camera belonging to CNN, and they found it for sale on eBay, where Brown had been converting the gear into cash.

Brown's been doing a great job of it too, with a near-perfect feedback rating on eBay.

Of note: Brown appears to have been taking items from checked luggage in the back rooms of the airport, not carry-ons. (One has to imagine you'd notice your $50,000 camera was missing after it came off the x-ray line.) But since consumers are no longer allowed to lock their luggage (or, at least, the TSA is allowed to break those locks as it sees fit), travelers have no real means of protection when it comes to guarding against inside job thievery like this.

What do you do if you need to get something expensive from point A to point B but can't carry it on the plane? Advance shipping through FedEx and the like seems like the only real solution: At least with shipping carriers you can insure the package against damage and theft. But sadly, your contract with the airlines absolves them of virtually all liability when things like this happen.

Another good reason to ship instead of check a bag? Given that airlines now charge up to a whopping $250 for a checked bag, it may now actually be cheaper to have FedEx pick up your stuff at your house and drop it at your destination. How's that for progress?



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Todd TerryRe: Another episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA
by on Oct 18, 2008 at 10:56:16 pm

[Mark Suszko] "it may now actually be cheaper to have FedEx pick up your stuff at your house and drop it at your destination."

Dunno if it is cheaper (doubtful), but it sure is easier. We FedEx everything when shooting on distant locations. We have a bunch of Pelican cases (different sizes), and usually ship about 5 to 10 cases depending on how heavy the shoot is, whether we are shooting SD video, HD, or 35mm, etc. Things like tripods and jibs are shipped in heavy-duty golf bag shipping cases, which we have found to be more rugged (and a bit cheaper) than the real cases that were made for them. Long stuff (mic fishpoles, C-stands) are shipped in those padded shotgun shipping cases.

After doing it a bit (and hating it), I never check equipment as baggage anymore. The only thing I travel with are lenses, and they aren't checked, I carry them on. I have a case for the primes about the size of a very thick Haliburton briefcase and it just makes the carry-on size limit. I won't ship or check the lenses since they are my babies (and worth more than most of the rest of the equipment put together).

What we usually do is look up the nearest FedEx office at our shoot destination, and ship "Hold for pickup" at that location. The gear is always waiting and ready for us, good to go.

Depending on how much gear we are shipping, the FedEx charges usually range from about $1800 to about $3500 for the two-way trip. It's pricey, but money well spent, I think... and if a shoot is big enough and far enough to have to fly there and need all of our toys, chances are that it's a project with a big enough budget to absorb those costs.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mike CohenRe: Another episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA
by on Oct 19, 2008 at 4:36:37 am

Back when I let someone else make my travel reservations, I used to lose checked gear periodically. It would usually turn up in time for the trip home. To avoid these problems, I book flights early the day before the shoot, so the airline has time to find my luggage before i need it. That said, i always pack tapes, batteries a lav mic and xlr cable in my carry-on bag, so if everything is lost I still have the means for a basic shoot. Tripod and lights can be rented in major cities.
Planning a shoot in a remote town in Germany - may go with UPS or FedEx for that one.
Have you seen the new Blue TSA uniforms - much more cop-like!


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Alex HuberRe: Another episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA
by on Oct 19, 2008 at 5:26:43 am

[Mike Cohen] "Planning a shoot in a remote town in Germany - may go with UPS or FedEx for that one."

May be a good idea -- but be sure to check rates BEFORE you concrete the budget. Both FedEx and UPS shipping costs out of the country have gotten outrageous.

I recently sold a lens on Ebay to a buyer in Italy. The package was about a third the size of a shoebox and weighed about 12oz. Both FedEx and UPS quoted more than a hundred bucks for the delivery -- FedEx was like $125 and UPS was about $119. Ouch. Can't imagine the bill that heavy gear would rack up.

/A





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Arnie SchlisselRe: Another episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA
by on Oct 20, 2008 at 9:39:01 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Brown's been doing a great job of it too, with a near-perfect feedback rating on eBay."

See, I think that this is a very important point. At least he's got good feedback on eBay. More than I can say for his "day" employer.

Seriously, nobody at Newark airport noticed all the missing luggage complaints? I understand that individual complaints go to individual airlines, but these guys should be looking for patterns like this.

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Tim KolbRe: Another episode of "Security Theatre", courtesy of TSA
by on Oct 21, 2008 at 1:35:11 pm

Yes...fairly interesting.

I haven't had any problems yet...but the few cameras I've had to ship, I have packed into an everyday cardboard box (inside is a case like a pelican, etc).

Particularly small-ish camcorders can go into a fairly large box and it seems too light to be anything substantial...and it cushions the blows from being loaded with a catapult...




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

CPO, Digieffects


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