Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Artful Concealment?

So, what exactly is artful concealment? Prior to working for TSA, I had never heard the term before. I used the term in a blog post a couple of months ago and based on the responses I got, many of our readers didn't seem to be too familiar with the term either.

So what does it mean? Does it mean to artfully conceal something you need to have Bob Ross paint a happy little tree on it so we won’t see it? Nope…

Let me give you a few examples, and then I’ll give you a definition.

A sword in a cane. A gun umbrella. A derringer belt buckle. A cell phone stun gun. A crucifix knife. A hollowed out bible with a gun inside. A gun taped to the bottom of a steel plate. I could give many more examples, but I don’t really want to give folks any ideas.

So basically, artful concealment is when you disguise an object by modifying its natural form to the form of something that will conceal it. This can be done by modifying the object to look like a permissible object, or it can be done by hiding the object in a belt, or shoe, bag lining etc. An artfully concealed item can also be an item that has been intentionally shielded by another object to hide its view from the x-ray.

In many cases, folks go through a lot of trouble concealing something with an item our x-rays can see right through. It’s sometimes comical to see the things that people think will fool an x-ray.

Here are some of the artfully concealed items that came through various checkpoints around the country just yesterday.

• A passenger was arrested after an officer found 19 rounds of .38 caliber ammunition hidden in their carry-on bag. The ammunition was taped together, wrapped in aluminum foil, and placed inside the handle of his carry-on bag.

• An artfully concealed 3-inch bladed belt buckle knife was detected in the carry-on bag of a passenger. The passenger surrendered the knife and was allowed to continue on their flight.

• A 2-inch pocketknife was hidden inside a laptop. The knife was located between the keyboard and the laptop screen. The passenger stated he knew the knife was in the laptop and that it was a prohibited item. Law enforcement officers issued a summons to appear in court and allowed the passenger to continue on the flight.

• A cane with an 18-inch sword blade was found during checkpoint screening. The police responded, confiscated the cane and interviewed the passenger who stated she did not know the cane (which was given to her by her husband) contained a sword. Law enforcement officers allowed the passenger to continue on the flight.

• A passenger was arrested after an artfully concealed 4½-inch knife was found inside a Santa Claus ornament. Police responded, confiscated the knife, and interviewed the passenger who stated she received the item as a gift and did not know there was a knife inside.

• A concealed pocketknife was detected during checkpoint screening. The passenger alarmed the metal detector and said that he had metal implants in his left hip. The passenger again alarmed the metal detectors and was referred to secondary screening. During hand wanding procedures, the passenger alarmed on his right side. The passenger produced a utility knife with a 2½-inch blade and wooden handle from his right pocket. State Police responded, confiscated the knife and arrested the passenger on the state charge of attempting to circumvent security screening.

• A 2½-inch knife was found inside a passenger’s belt buckle. The County Sheriff’s Department responded, took possession of the knife, and interviewed the passenger. Law enforcement officers allowed the passenger to surrender the prohibited item to a non-traveling family member and continue on the flight.

There are also a few blasts from the past I’d like to mention. We’ve had a gun in a teddy bear and a diaper bag, a knife in a baby carrier, and too many cane-swords to mention. Many of these canes are hand-me-downs or were purchased at an antique store or yard sale and the passenger had no idea whatsoever that there was a sword inside.

So what’s the moral of this story? It’s not worth getting arrested or delayed in your travels to sneak a small knife on a plane. And before you leave for the airport, double check your bags, belt and pocket for items that could cause you trouble at a checkpoint.


EoS Blog Team

Update 12/17/08 1846: This happened after our blog post went live, but we wanted to share it with you anyway. After noticing a piece of metal in a shoe on the x-ray monitor, a passenger was caught artfully concealing a crack pipe under their shoe insert.


EoS Blog Team

Update 12/26/08 1500: Five rounds of .38 caliber ammunition were detected artfully concealed in a deck of cards in the carry-on bag of a passenger. The deck of cards were glued together and had five individual bore holes drilled out in order to hold the five rounds. Police responded and interviewed the passenger, who stated he “wanted to keep the bullets out of the reach of his kids.” Police arrested the passenger on the State Charge of Unlawful Possession of Ammunition.


EoS Blog Team