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Omer Petti, 95-Year-Old Air Force Veteran, Says $300 Stolen During TSA Screening

Posted: 04/19/2012 6:33 pm Updated: 04/19/2012 6:33 pm

For most people, a TSA screening only costs time and dignity.

But for Omer Petti, a 95-year-old retired Air Force Major from the Detroit-area, a screening in March came with a $300 price tag.

According to a report from WXYZ-7, Petti and his 85-year-old companion, Madge Woodward, were flying from San Diego to Detroit when they were forced to undergo enhanced screening at the airport.

Petti has prosthetic knees and Woodward has had hip replacement surgery, so this was not unusual.

From the Detroit News' Marney Rich Keenan:

After both set off alarms, they were patted down. Then, a security officer did a litmus test on Petti's clothing, which tested positive for nitrates. Petti explained that he carries nitroglycerin pills for his heart. Nonetheless, Petti was taken to a private room for yet another pat-down by a different officer while the same security officer emptied their carry-on bags and rifled through every item.

Petti told WXYZ-7 that he placed his metal money clip in a bin before he went through the metal detector, but a TSA agent told him that he also had to remove some tissues and $300 in cash from his pocket, so he complied.

But when he returned from his private screening, his money was nowhere to be found, according to WXYZ-7.

"I think I was scammed," Petti told WXYZ-7. "I would like my money back, but money doesn't pay for all the stress and humiliation."

In February, the Associated Press reported on more than a half dozen separate allegations of TSA officers stealing cash and valuable electronics from passengers.

There is also no shortage of instances of elderly travelers undergoing extensive and embarrassing screening procedures.

Last June, TSA officers at a Florida airport allegedly forced a 95-year-old woman with cancer to strip down and remove her adult diaper. The TSA, however, later denied that its officers had required the woman to remove the pair of Depends.

In January, the TSA apologized to two women -- one of whom had a colostomy bag -- who were strip-searched at JFK International Airport in separate instances.

But there's also a bit of good news for some elderly travelers: The TSA announced last month that, as part of a test program, it may ease screening procedures for passengers over the age of 75 and could allow them to leave on their shoes and light jackets. The agency will also reduce the number of pat-downs for elderly passengers, according to the TSA.

As for Petti's missing money, the Detroit News heard back from the TSA, so click here to see what the agency is doing about the allegations.

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Filed by Timothy Stenovec  |