View Full Version : Impostors steal uniforms & stalk crews

11th Aug 2002, 13:08
Airlines Alerted to Impostors
Thieves Take Uniforms; Crews Report Stalkings

By Greg Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 10, 2002; Page A01

The Transportation Security Administration has warned airlines to be on the lookout for impostors wearing stolen uniforms trying to gain access to planes or airports, citing a series of recent thefts from flight crews.

Agency officials would not comment on the confidential warning, which was issued July 22 -- a week after burglars took airline uniforms, keys and identification tags from the New York apartment of two Delta Airlines flight attendants.

The warning does not cite any particular case, saying only that the TSA "continues to receive reports" about such thefts. It adds that "recent reporting also suggests a possible trend in the thefts of uniforms, vehicles and other items used by police, firefighters and emergency response personnel."

The warning urges airport security officials to be vigilant about checking employee identification cards.

Terrorists have been known to impersonate authority figures in other countries, such as when Palestinian attackers dressed as Israeli soldiers and bombed a bus last month in Israel. Earlier this year, London's Heathrow Airport was robbed twice in five weeks by bandits wearing security uniforms.

Rumors about terrorists posing as law enforcement or rescue personnel abounded in the United States shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, and as recently as June two Middle Eastern men were questioned by police after trying to buy a used ambulance in New Jersey.

"The threat is very real," said Capt. Stephen Luckey, head of security for the Air Line Pilots Association, a union representing some 67,000 commercial pilots.

Pilots and flight attendants have always been vulnerable to theft when traveling, Luckey said, but since Sept. 11 the items taken seem to have changed. "They used to steal things like radios, maybe a computer. Now, they're focusing more on uniforms and accessories," Luckey said.

The US Airways unit of the Association of Flight Attendants warned its members last month about the dangers of "identity theft" while traveling, offering tips on how to secure hotel rooms and advising members to make copies of IDs and other documents in case the originals are stolen.

In the incident last month in New York, two Delta flight attendants returned home after several days away to find that someone entered their Astoria, Queens, apartment and stole airline uniforms, a key that opens storage compartments on board a plane, crew-bag tags, flight attendant wings, a flight book and a Delta ID card.

The only other items reported stolen were $20 in cash and two cartons of cigarettes.

In May in Kansas City, Mo., someone stole a delivery truck containing uniforms for mechanics and other flight-line workers. The truck was later recovered, but the uniforms -- for employees of three airlines -- were gone.

FBI counter-terrorism agents consulted on that case and the one in New York but said they found no links to terrorism in either. FBI officials said they are keeping tabs on both situations but are no longer participating in the investigations.

Luckey said the pattern of such incidents cannot be dismissed.

"Taken out of context, individually, I don't think they're that significant. But when you put them together they paint a fairly good mosaic of threat," he said. "In light of the 9/11 attacks . . . I think this is an actual indication of something that requires a little more than casual attention."

In addition to theft, pilots and flight attendants say they increasingly feel they're being watched or even followed when traveling abroad.

The Northwest Airlines unit of the pilots' union issued a security alert to its members on July 2, warning that "flight crews from other airlines have reported being the subjects of obvious surveillance by Mid-Eastern looking males and females" while traveling in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and London.

One American Airlines flight crew member who asked not to be identified said a co-worker was in a London pub during a layover when "a Middle Eastern man started taking pictures" of her and other crew members.

"There are lots of stories of stalking, and I don't know of these kind of stories before 9/11," the American employee said.

The pilots' union is calling for the TSA to create a new airport badging system using a biometric component, such as iris scans or fingerprints, to verify the identity not only of pilots but also of any armed federal agents who may be on a flight.

Meanwhile, Luckey has sent pilots tips on counter-surveillance techniques, such as how to sneak a photo of a suspicious person. Stalking incidents, like thefts of uniforms, are "demonstrably a very viable threat and something we need to guard against," he said.

2002 The Washington Post Company

11th Aug 2002, 21:23
Hmm, why don't we as crew members carry small cameras to take pictures of the stalkers and "Middle Eastern looking" men (Ayrabs:rolleyes: ) taking pictures of the crews..?

Should be no problem and I shall be happy to turn the film over the FBI or Mosad or whoever keeps tabs on terrorists.

(TowerDog, I've deleted your last paragraph to spare you the wrath of the other admin and/or mods. Your point is well made without the last bit. If you disagree with my action, you know where to find me....)

Here is my vote.......

11th Aug 2002, 23:22
Why not get a Sporty's catalogue and buy a white shirt, a set of epaulettes and a hat online? :p

12th Aug 2002, 00:36
>>Hmm, why don't we as crew members carry small cameras to take pictures of the stalkers and "Middle Eastern looking" men (Ayrabs ) taking pictures of the crews..? <<

Yep, the watchers are being watched...


ACARS mode: 2 Aircraft reg: .N468UA
Message label: 5Z Block id: 6 Msg. no: M07A
Flight id: UA0231
Message content:-
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ACARS mode: 2 Aircraft reg: .N468UA
Message label: 5Z Block id: 0 Msg. no: M09A
Flight id: UA0231
Message content:-
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12th Aug 2002, 05:31
Yeah right. A terrorist is going to be openly taking photos with an effing great telephoto. He's just a tourist, guys.

JHC :mad:

Fool's Hole
12th Aug 2002, 08:02

Do we have to have a hat as well???

We don't do hats anymore.

professor yaffle
12th Aug 2002, 11:28
openly taking photos could be a unique double bluff - exactly the sort of thing you would least expect therefore being done!
just because you're are paranoid doesn't actually mean that they're not out to get you!!


12th Aug 2002, 11:48
I am still constantly amazed, despite all the security training and the current terrorist activity to seeing pilots and cabin crew off duty in supermarkets in full uniform.These pilots or pillocks as I call them are also seen driving home displaying their hats and epaulettes for all to see! They are mostly BA who as a flag carrier and probably most at risk should know better.

FO Janeway
12th Aug 2002, 15:22
People who drive to work with their epaulettes on always make me smile: Hey everybody, look: I'm a pilot, I'm cooler than yaouh!

Attention: One of my colleagues had his flightbag stolen at

The Renaissance Hotel in DUS,
(last tuesday, in breakfastroom)

Just imagine: 2 Passports, Licence, 2 Airside passes, Mobile, Carkeys, Headset.
Perfect for terrorists for working on forgeries.

Happy landings everybody