Laura Ingraham’s baptismal cross went missing from her checked luggage at the Newark airport this weekend, and the syndicated radio host says either a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker or a Continental Airlines employee is responsible.
Ingraham had just finished several radio and television appearance in New York City and was in a rush to the airport. She told The Daily Caller she normally carries her luggage on planes, but since she was pressed for time and was carrying copies of her new book, she checked a suitcase before her Friday evening flight from Newark to Denver.
In her luggage was a small purple jewelry bag containing the cross she received at her Catholic baptism about nine years ago. “It’s from the Vatican,” Ingraham told TheDC. “It was blessed by the Pope.”
The bag came out quickly when she got to Denver, which Ingraham said indicates that the theft happened in Newark.
On her radio program Monday morning, Ingraham said she first discovered her jewelry was stolen when she got to her Denver hotel room. She opened her suitcase and then noticed: “Someone’s been in this bag.”
“It looks like it’s been rifled through,” Ingraham said. “All the junk is all balled up in wrinkled knots — the stuff has clearly been rifled through. And, I said, ‘Gosh, TSA, you think they’d be a little more careful with the clothes.’”
She said TSA employees didn’t leave any notice or card saying they searched her bag. “I kind of let it go and I’m putting my stuff away, then, all of a sudden, I look down, and the little purple jewelry bag that, again, I don’t have jewelry so my friend lent me [one], is open,” Ingraham said on her show. “The little container of the jewelry, of course that contained my cross, was stolen.”
Ingraham told TheDC she has been getting a “total runaround” while trying to track down answers about the theft and information about how to proceed. “The only people who, it turns out, were helpful, were the nice people at the Port Authority Police Department at Newark Airport,” she said in a phone interview. “After hours of trying to get somebody at Continental to even respond, the next day they [Port Authority police] helped me file an official criminal police report.”
She said the process for reporting these kinds of crimes is so cumbersome that many people don’t have the time or willpower to get to the bottom of them. For instance, Ingraham said a Continental Airlines customer service employee in Newark told her that she shouldn’t be putting jewelry in her bag in the first place. “Blaming the victim is also a really lovely way to deal with the flying public,” she said.
Ingraham adds that she’s not as worried about her stolen stuff as she is about the bigger picture. “My thing is an annoyance and it’s sad,” Ingraham said. “But the bigger thing is, we have criminals working in our airports. We’re doing these backscatter x-ray machines, we’re spending billions on airport security, and yet our basic screening of employees seems to be completely lacking.”
The TSA said it “investigates” and “takes seriously” whenever someone makes “allegations of missing items.”
“TSA is one of several entities that handles checked baggage – members of our workforce only have possession of bags long enough to screen them for prohibited items,” a TSA official said in an email to TheDC.*
A spokesperson for Continental Airlines did not immediately return TheDC’s requests for comment.
*This story has been updated to reflect a comment from the TSA.