Polk County, FL – A Tampa Airport Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer was arrested on Monday for allegedly making up a story about heroically stopping an armed burglary in an effort to avoid getting in trouble at work for repeatedly being late.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) launched an investigation into 34-year-old Taleta Collier on April 4, after the Federal Air Marshal Service’s Assistant Federal Security Director of Law Enforcement contacted them to report they had received what they believed to be a “fake PCSO burglary report,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release on Tuesday.
PCSO detectives were told the TSA officer was on an employee improvement plan due to her “excessive tardiness” when she contacted the TSA telecommunications office on March 20 to let them know she would be late to work, according to the press release.
When she finally came in, Collier allegedly told her supervisor that the only reason she was late was because she busted a man armed with a knife trying to burglarize her parents’ vehicle outside their house, the PCSO said.
“Collier told her supervisor she drew her agency issued weapon and pointed it at the alleged suspect causing him to flee,” the sheriff’s office said.
She further claimed to have reported the armed robbery to the PCSO, but she was unable to produce a case number or a business card for the detective who was supposedly handling the case when her supervisor asked for such information, according to the press release.
Collier’s boss told her to go get a copy of the police report and to bring it in, so she submitted a “screen shot of a document that looked similar to a police report” on April 3, the PCSO said.
“Collier was then instructed to provide an actual copy of the report and not a picture of it, which she never provided,” the sheriff’s office said.
The TSA officer’s supervisor handed the photo of the alleged report over to the PCSO, which quickly deemed it to be “an obvious fake,” according to the press release.
Collier allegedly went so far as to include a current PCSO deputy’s name and member number on the report.
The sheriff’s office said the deputy Collier claimed generated the report was out of the country on vacation when the “fake report” was supposedly written.
He also told investigators he did not respond to the alleged incident, nor did he create a report about it, according to the PCSO.
When investigators spoke with Collier’s parents about the attempted burglary of their vehicle, they had no idea what they were talking about and said no one had tried to break into their car, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies arrested Collier on charges of uttering a false document and criminal use of personal identification on April 18.
“When detectives asked Collier about the armed burglary in an effort to investigate the alleged crime, Collier asked if her employer had contacted PCSO and that she didn’t want to discuss it,” the PCSO said.
It is unclear whether or not Collier is still employed by TSA.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in the press release. “I don’t understand why anyone would go to the extent of creating a fake police report to avoid a reprimand at work for tardiness. Collier has violated the trust of her coworkers and the people she was supposed to keep safe.”