The director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, Charlie Leocha, said the thefts in terms of dollar amounts are often minor, but still an irritation to passengers.
"It's less the value, it's the factor of being violated in some way," he said. "It's like you've got someone going through your underwear, for Christ's sake."
The Consumer Travel Alliance works closely with TSA, he said, and he urges travelers to always file a report with TSA and their airline when something goes missing.
"They are going to study it, and check into it. But you are not necessarily going to get any reimbursement from TSA" because it is often difficult to determine whether it was an airline or a TSA problem, Leocha said.
"In some way, passengers are kind of stuck, they really don't have any specific rights when it comes to TSA or the airlines," Leocha said.
For the ABC News investigation, iPads were purposefully left behind on 10 different occasions at TSA checkpoints at major airports with a history of theft by government screeners. TSA officers at nine of the ten airport checkpoints followed agency guidelines and immediately contacted the owner, whose name and phone number were displayed prominently on the iPad case.
But when one iPad wasn't returned from an Orlando airport, ABC News filed a missing property report but no other action was taken. It was only when ABC News tracked the iPad to TSA officer Ramirez's home that it was recovered two weeks later. Ramirez claimed at the time that his wife had taken the iPad but was later fired.