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Former TSA employee denies stealing money from passenger

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A former Transportation Security Administration screener has denied stealing cash from the wallet of a traveler at Hono­lulu Airport.

Tracy Leanne Owens is charged with fourth-degree theft and accused of stealing less than $100 last month in a security screening line. She is scheduled to appear in court next week.

Owens, 47, of Kailua, said in a phone interview Friday that she worked part time for the TSA for about five years and wouldn’t have risked her job "for a measly $100."

"A hundred dollars won’t even get you out of the grocery store or pay your electric bill nowadays," she said.

She said a passenger screened for an interisland flight complained money was missing from his wallet.

Owens was questioned about the June 22 incident and released, state Department of Public Safety spokes­woman Toni Schwartz said. Sheriff’s deputies arrested her five days later.

Owens said she was arrested at her home on her day off. "I told them I didn’t do it," she said.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said Owens has resigned.

TSA "has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace," Melendez said in a statement.

"I couldn’t see myself working for an agency falsely accusing me of theft," Owens said, adding that she had been thinking about quitting at the end of the year.

She said she disliked all the "disgusting" and "invasive" pat-downs she was required to do on the job.

"It was just humiliating to have to do that to people," she said.

She acknowledged pleading no contest to theft in 1995 in a separate case but said she was with a man who stole a purse from someone at a restaurant.

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