Where does it all go?

Since 9/11, the TSA has collected tons of items at airport security checkpoints. What happens to all that stuff? Here's how to buy TSA contraband.

Since 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration has collected tons of items at security checkpoints; in 2006 alone, screeners took in more than 13 million items. What happens to all that stuff? The TSA turns it over to state surplus property agencies, which tend to sell it online or at retail stores. (Sometimes the contraband is sold in bulk.)

The agencies say they'll reunite you with your prized pocketknife, if they can locate it. But they would much prefer that travelers figure out the rules and abide by them. "Our goal is for passengers not to bring this stuff on anymore, so we won't have to deal with it," says Steve Ekin, Georgia's surplus property division director. Here's where to look, and what you might find.

Airports: 14 in Florida and Alabama, including Miami, Orlando, Huntsville, and Birmingham
Where to buy: eBay (seller ID: alstatesurplus)
Typical deal: Golf driver $100
Craziest items? "There are always lots of plastic fake swords that people buy at Walt Disney World, so there are probably lots of mad kids."
Info: adeca.state.al.us/surplus%20property

Airports: Atlanta, Savannah/Hilton Head
Where to buy: Stores in Tucker (Atlanta Surplus Center, 770/414-6468); Swainsboro (Swains­boro Surplus Center, 478/289-2623); and Americus (Americus Surplus Center, 229/931-2407)
Typical deal: Hammers $3, cordless drills $10
Craziest items? "We get flatware and kitchen knives stolen from restaurants, and we've received a bowling pin, a chain saw, and a few circular saws."
Info: surplusproperty.doas.georgia.gov

Airports: Chicago O'Hare, Chicago Midway, and occasionally four more in Illinois and Michigan
Where to buy: Auctions held at ibid.illinois.gov
Typical deal: 25 pounds of Swiss Army knives for $250
Craziest items? "On occasion, we'll see big bowie knives and ninja swords. And nunchucks--a lot of those come through."

Airports: Eight in various states, including Orlando and Miami (Alabama shares the loot), and Louisville
Where to buy: eBay (seller ID: kysurplus)
Typical deal: 50 Swiss Army knives for $250
Craziest items? "We've collected about 500 mini Louisville Slugger bats bought at the Louisville Slugger Museum."
Info: finance.ky.gov/internal/surplus

Airports: Portland and Eugene
Where to buy: eBay (seller ID: oregontrail2000)
Typical deal: 10 Leatherman multitools for $75
Craziest items? "Golf clubs and machetes."
Info: oregonsurplus.com

Airports: 13 from various states, including New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, and Cleveland
Where to buy: eBay (seller ID: pastatesurplus)
Typical deal: Deer-hunting kit (gut-slitting knife, multitool, pocket­knife, large safety pins, rope, flashlight) for $50
Craziest items? "We've received hundreds of pairs of fuzzy handcuffs and other ... paraphernalia--I wanted to create funny Valentine's Day kits, but folks here thought taxpayers wouldn't like it."
Info: dgs.state.pa.us/surp_prop

Airports: Seven across the state, including Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin
Where to buy: Austin Storefront in Austin, 512/463-1990
Typical deal: Scissors and corkscrews 25¢, knives 50¢, multitools $2.50
Craziest items? "Brass knuckles, crutches, and piƱata sticks. And we once got a cane with a knife inside it."
Info: tfc.state.tx.us/communities/supportserv/prog/statesurplus

Washington State
Airports: Seattle-Tacoma, Spokane, and Tri-Cities
Where to buy: Auburn Retail Store in Auburn, 253/333-4912
Typical deal: Corkscrews for 25¢
Craziest items? "Lots of ulus--round Eskimo chopping blades. Also, a Sit'n Putt. It's a short-handled putter designed to be used while you're on the potty."
Info: ga.wa.gov/surplus

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip



Allyn Paul said...

why would they take a golf club? The only person who is in danger from one of those is Josh COmbs! LOL

Julio Medina said...

LOL!! If you want to see what Al is talking about go check out The Vis a Vis blog in blog links section and you will see the pictures.

I bet the guy in security was like...Hmmm nice golf clubs. You dont these ;)

No but really if I worked that job and someone was irate and or condescending...I would confiscate stuff left and right to give them an attitude adjustment LOL!!!

That is probably why i do not have that job folks, Your stuff safe with you. LOL

Chad said...

Nice Al! Ka-ping!

I'm gonna check out the Illinois site. See if I can score some cheap golf clubs!

Josh and Sarah Cox said...

Josh Combs! That's who that was? LOL! Tell him I said hello. I thought he was in Iowa.

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