CHICAGO (AP) — Uniforms belonging to U.S. Transportation Security Administration officers were left in the open at an O'Hare International Airport checkpoint last month, as was a cash box, officials said Monday.
TSA spokesman Elio Montenegro said the items were in an area past security checkpoints, insisting that someone wearing a TSA uniform still could not get into a secure area without the proper identification.
"First and foremost, at no time was security or safety breached," Montenegro said Monday. "At all times, the items in question were in the secure area of the airport ... and at no time were they accessible to the general public."
Still, one aviation security expert told the Chicago Sun-Times for a Monday story that the incident could have posed a risk, saying the uniforms could have been stolen and used by people trying to get through security without being checked.
With a stolen uniform, "you could do anything the checkpoint is designed to protect against," said Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general.
The Sun-Times first reported on the items being left out based on a Chicago Department of Aviation document dated March 14 that indicated unsecured items were found at six O'Hare checkpoints.
The document said the items included multiple TSA sweaters and jackets, one TSA shirt and a pair of uniform pants.
Montenegro could not detail all the items found but said they all were immediately removed.
The TSA won't conduct an investigation and won't alter procedures based on the incident, he added.
"There's no reason to change any procedure," Montenegro said. "Everything was followed."