A security screening officer at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, in the Philippines, was suspended for allegedly stealing US$300 (S$410.45) from a passenger during an inspection.
When the passenger noticed money was missing from his wallet, the officer attempted to swallow the cash she stole to avoid getting caught.
Her acts were caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) which has been uploaded online.
Bag tampered, US$300 (S$410.45) missing
According to the Manila Bulletin, the incident occurred on Sep. 8, 2023.
The passenger, who was identified as Cai, placed his hand-carried bag on a tray for a security screening before passing through the the Advanced Imaging Technology Machine (AITM) for an inspection.
At this point, the female officer brought the tray containing Cai's bag to a table for a manual check.
When she finished inspecting Cai's bag, the officer turned away with her left fist tightly closed, seemingly holding onto something.
She then quickly placed the item on her left torso area and went back to the inspection table.
At this point, Cai noticed that his bag had been tampered with as his wallet was open and several bills amounting to US$300 (S$410.45) were missing.
Cai then confronted the female security officer along with other security personnel about the missing money.
Attempted to swallow banknotes
Around this time, an x-ray operator could be seen handing the female security officer a bottle of water.
Upon accepting the water, the officer turned her back away and could be seen attempting to swallow some banknotes by shoving them into her mouth.
Unbeknownst to the officer, she was facing a CCTV which captured her allegedly trying to destroy the evidence of her theft.
An official report released by airport authorities noted that the officer's supervisor approached her while she was shoving the banknotes in her mouth, "apparently ensuring that the bills are dispatched to preclude any evidence", meaning that she was assisting with the act.
"The CCTV footage clearly shows that the SSO (security screening officer), with intent to gain, took the US$300 ((S$410.45) of Mr. Cai during her inspection process and was clearly in the possession of the stolen money as she deliberately swallowed the paper bills to avoid getting caught," the report concluded.
The report also stated that the supervisor and x-ray operator who gave the bottled water appeared to be in "connivance relative to the execution and subsequent evasion on the consequence of herein illegal act" of the security screening officer.
Possible criminal case, suspension
On Sep. 18, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) said it is working closely with the Manila International Airport Authority and the Philippine National Police Aviation Security to investigate the incident and bring those accountable to law.
Unfortunately, Cai could no longer be contacted to question if he planned to pursue any criminal complaints against the female security screening officer, Manila Bulletin reported, citing an official report by airport authorities.
However, an administrator from OTS on Sep. 21 said the office is in the process of filing an administrative case and a possible criminal case against the female security screening officer who has since been suspended, CNN Philippines reported.
Top image via SunStar Cebu/Facebook