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'Passenger beware,' city man warns

Equipment stolen during security check at Yellowknife airport

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 28/02) - Shawn Evans' cell phone and brand new digital camera disappeared during a security check at the Yellowknife airport last March.

But no one will take responsibility, says Evans, who claims the security company has repeatedly "brushed him off."

"It's definitely a 'passenger beware thing'," said Evans who is now in the process of taking Twilite Security Ltd. to court.

"I would say do not hand in electronics to these people."

Evans was passing through security on his way to Toronto on March 26. He was travelling on First Air.

The security station was busy and employees were doing multiple jobs, he said.

His property was loaded into the X-ray scanner with other passengers' belongings. Then, he passed through the metal detector gate and was checked for metal on his body.

"When I got back to pick up my stuff, it was gone," he said.

When he told security personnel that he couldn't find his stuff, he was "virtually ignored."

Finally, an employee made inquires of two others, returned and told him the airline will take care of it.

Evans managed to get names of two employees, but had to leave because his plane was boarding.

"I forced my business card into this guy's hand and said 'this is who I am. You'll be hearing from me.'"

Together the items are worth $1,700 but he is taking the security company to court over his camera, which has an estimated worth of $1,200.

During a stopover in Edmonton, Evans notified the RCMP who started an investigation. And later, Evans asked the airport to check surveillance videotape. He was told there aren't any cameras in that area.

Since then, both First Air, Canadian North and Twilite Security Ltd. have told him they are not liable.

Twilight Security is contracted by Canadian North. At the time First Air paid Canadian North for the service.

Gary Reid, director of commercial services for Canadian North said the issue is between the security company and the individual. "We are only the holder of the contract. All airlines participate with security. And the fact is, the passenger was travelling on First Air, not Canadian North."

But he added, "Somebody has lost something going through a business and there should be a responsibility."

First Air did not return phone calls by deadline.

And, according to Evans, Twilight Security won't take responsibility. Evans said the company's chairperson, Brian Carter, told him he was waiting for news from the insurance company, but then stopped returning his calls.

Eventually, Canadian North wrote a letter to Twilite and the company called him back. Carter told him the company is not liable and advised him to go through his own household insurance.

Evans said Carter did eventually tell him the company "may give him 50 per cent depreciation value of his camera if his personal insurance did not cover it."

"I have a $500 deductible on my insurance and I'm not going to pay that for something I didn't do," said Evans.

No ill will towards airlines

He said he doesn't hold any ill will towards the airlines.

"I feel Twilite is the most directly responsible."

What upsets him the most is the way he's been treated. "It wasn't pretty," he said, and wants to warn others that "once in a security area, apparently, no one is responsible for your equipment."

"I handed over my personal property to a person in a position of public trust," said Evans. "I complied with all the security signs in the airport and security screeners' wishes. I would expect that they are responsible to make sure that my property is looked after and returned to me when they are finished inspecting it," he said. "I have never been treated so unprofessionally in my life."

Carter told Yellowknifer he's "not going to fight this in the media until it is resolved."

Carter did say options "were presented to Evans, which he chose not to follow. But that's his choice."