Every Friday, FlyerTalk looks back at the week’s most charming individuals. While there are always plenty of contenders for our Worst Passenger of the Week award, only one Florida man can take home the glory. Here are this week’s winners.
Police say a Florida man was arrested after allegedly attempting to bring an unlicensed Glock 43 9mm semiautomatic pistol through a security checkpoint at Tampa International Airport (TPA) this week. In this case, rapper Piles was taken into custody after screeners found the handgun in the entertainer’s carry-on bag.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the fact that the recording artist ran afoul of federal regulations that got the Grammy-nominated artist in hot water. Instead, it was only the rapper’s lack of a state concealed carry permit that led to his arrest.
TPA Police Chief Charlie Vazquez said that had the 43-year-old gangsta rapper’s Glock been legally registered, then Florida native Piles (aka Algernod Lanier Washington) would likely have avoided any legal repercussions at all. “In most cases you’d just walk back to your car and put the firearm there,” Vazquez told reporters.
The jurisdiction’s laissez-faire approach to punishing airport security violations is likely bad news for anyone who regularly spends time in notoriously long security lines at TPA, which ranks among the top ten airports in the U.S. when it comes to the number of passengers caught with guns at TSA security checkpoints. The police chief’s comments also seem to announce to anyone desperate to get their hands on a weapon, that they might want to start their search by checking out the airport’s longterm parking garage.
The Secret Service says that a Florida man was arrested for allegedly being the ringleader of a car theft syndicate which fraudulently rented high-end cars from airport car rental kiosks and simply never returned the vehicles. In this case, authorities say that George Christopher Jackson and his accomplices took car rental companies for $1.35 million dollars over a six-month-period this year.
A multi-agency task force managed to nab Jackson and seven alleged underlings, but ten other suspects and the never-returned vehicles they rented are still at large. According to arrest records, Jackson recruited individuals to apply for secured credit cards at a local bank and then rent cars through kiosks at airports across Florida including Orlando International Airport (MCO), Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). Once the luxury cars, which included Jaguars, Porsches, Mercedes, Land Rovers, Cadillacs, Infiniti QX80s and even a brand new Maserati, were rented, the vehicles were never seen again.
Investigators say that Jackson told his proxies to tell car rental employees that they were renting the expensive vehicles for celebrities if challenged. The patsies recruited to rent the cars apparently used their own drivers licenses and credit cards in their own names at the airport kiosks. The minions are said to have been paid a “few hundred dollars” to rent and drop the stolen vehicles off at a predetermined location.
While schemes of this sort will undoubtedly make it much more difficult and expensive for the rest of us to quickly and easily rent a car, the real victims here are the actual celebrities who arrived in Florida only to to discover that the Porsche Cayenne they reserved was inexplicably unavailable.
Police say a Florida man was arrested after allegedly attempting to steal a passenger jet from an American Airlines maintenance facility at Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) this week. In this case, Florida Institute of Technology student pilot Nishal Sankat climbed a perimeter fence before making his way aboard the Airbus A321 which was undergoing repairs.
The 22-year-old, who was soon spotted on the flight deck of the aircraft, was quickly detained by maintenance workers. The employees restrained the unarmed trespasser until police arrived at the scene. Melbourne Police Chief David Gillespie told reporters that the suspect, who is said to have a Florida driver’s license, was charged with trespassing on airport property, burglary and the attempted theft of an aircraft.
No motive behind the bizarre incident has been determined as of yet. Authorities say there are no apparent links to terrorism, but because of the nature of the alleged crime, the Joint Terrorism Task Force is leading the investigation. Airport spokesperson Lori Booker said that, although Sankat had some experience as a pilot, the aircraft he allegedly attempted to make off with was securely blocked-in to prevent it from moving – making the attempt dramatic, but ultimately futile.
The airport was under lockdown for a little less than two hours while police took the suspect into custody and investigators swept the facility for other possible security issues. Sankat’s car was later discovered nearby with the engine still running.