airport security breaches are way more common than you think

words mary von aue  |  image michael sauers

If you find yourself getting frustrated with the current airport check-in routine, you may not like what I’m about to say.  If you’re into the tradition of taking off your shoes, removing your electronics, and standing barefoot on a filthy floor only to be herded into an X ray booth that broadcasts your naked silhouette to a gaggle of gawking security guards, then by all means, keep reading. Clearly nothing disturbs you.

A distressing report from Associated Press claims there have been at least 268 airport perimeter breaches since 2004, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars we’ve spent on advanced security measures. What could be a more sophisticated precaution than removing our shoes?  It’s hard to even imagine, but one weakness seems to be in airport fencing.

According to the report, a mentally ill man hopped the fence at Los Angeles International eight times in less than a year. Twice, he even reached stairs that led to jets. At Chicago O’Hare, one man was able to get past the fence with his bicycle, and proceeded to enjoy a pleasant ride on the tarmac until stopping at a terminal door.

Others sought a more thrilling experience, such as the man at Philadelphia International who rammed his SUV through a security gate and sped down the runway as a plane was landing. Despite miles and miles of high tech security fencing, we seem to lack the patrolling and cameras to maintain them.

While several of these cases involved knives and one intruder carrying a loaded handgun, AP reports no evidence of terrorist intent- though run of the mill craziness isn’t exactly comforting. Even more harrowing, there are most likely more than 268 breaches on record, as Boston and all three of New York’s airports refused to release their data.

“There is nothing that can’t be penetrated,” said LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon.Since the report was released, TSA has made no mention of updating its security precautions, so just assume you’ll be taking your shoes off at the next checkpoint anyway. 

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