Friday, January 13, 2012

TSA Week In Review: Gassed Up Chainsaw & Deadly Lipstick

Machete, lipstick stun gun, lipstick knife, chainsaw, loaded guns, knives, brass knuckles.
Gassed Up Chainsaw: Believe it or not, the chainsaw found at Elmira (ELM) was not the problem here. You can travel with your chainsaw as checked luggage, however, gassing it up is the problem. You know… Gas? Highly flammable liquid...

Lipstick Stun Gun: A 350,000 volt stun gun designed to look like lipstick was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Burlington (BTV). This particular lipstick is known to leave your lips looking stunning.

Lipstick Knife: A 4-ounce canister of mace along with a lipstick knife were found in a carry-on bag at Akron (CAK). I guess if you’re going for blood red lips, this is for you.

11” Machete: An 11” machete was discovered in a carry-on bag at San Diego (SAN).

More Throwing Knives: Once again, throwing knives were found (in the usual set of three) at Salt Lake City (SLC).

False Bottle Marked “Lotion”: Three bottles alarmed the Explosive Detection System in checked baggage at Philadelphia (PHL). After searching them, two bottles were shampoo and the other was a bottle marked “lotion” which had been cut in half and taped back together. Inside the bottle were two clear bags containing a green leafy substance. Green leafy lotion?

Walking On A Knife’s Edge?: A passenger at Miami (MIA) was concealing a steak knife with a 4” blade in their shoe. We found it…

Odd Turducken-Like Concealment Method: Officers at Charlotte (CLT) discovered a green leafy substance in a plastic bag, artfully concealed inside of a bag of sand and another plastic baggy containing a green leafy substance pushed down inside a piece of bread, stuffed inside a shoe. We’re not looking for drugs, but when something is packed like this and stuffed in a shoe, it’s going to look ominously odd.

Pepper Spray: A passenger at Boston (BOS) had two canisters of pepper spray in their carry-on bag. Pepper spray drifts after it’s been sprayed and if you happen to be close to it, you’ll get to experience the sting. Imagine this stuff going off in a close quarters pressurized cabin.

O Happy Dagger!: A 3” double-edged dagger was discovered in a carry-on bag at Chicago O’Hare (ORD).

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found firearm components, ammunition, switchblades, batons, stun guns, knives, knives, and more knives, a realistic replica firearm, brass knuckles, a kubaton, and a baton.

Firearms: Our officers found 13 loaded firearms and 7 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 20 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 
1/6: ANC – Unloaded .40 – MIA – Loaded .380 – ATL – Unloaded .22 – HOU – Unloaded .25
1/7: SNA – Loaded .45
1/8: TPA – Unloaded .22 – CLT – Loaded .22 – DTW – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered
1/9: CLT – Loaded .22 – IAD – Loaded .22 – TPA – Unloaded .25 – ATL – Loaded .380
1/10: PHX – Loaded .45 – PVD – Unloaded .22 – MGM – Loaded .380
1/11: SEA – Unloaded 9mm – DTW – Loaded .380 w/ Round Chambered – SAT – Loaded .22
1/12: RIC Loaded .38 – SEA – Loaded .22 w/ Round Chambered
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way. 

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport. 

Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt. 

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

51 comments:

RB said...

False Bottle Marked “Lotion”: Three bottles alarmed the Explosive Detection System in checked baggage at Philadelphia (PHL). After searching them, two bottles were shampoo and the other was a bottle marked “lotion” which had been cut in half and taped back together. Inside the bottle were two clear bags containing a green leafy substance. Green leafy lotion?
.......................


So the Explosive Detection System alerted on green leafy substances?

Did all three bottle alarm the system or just the one?

Anonymous said...

Just so we're clear ... I'm not a terrorist but thanks for validating that fact every time I travel.

I will vote for any politician that vows to eliminate the TSA or at least decrease funding.

steve covacs said...

Great Work! You Can Open A Hollywood F/X Supply Shop!

IraqVet said...

Hey Blogger Bob it looks like you and your girls might be in for pay raise for another job well...it appears to be another shake down...see you on Ebay.

TSA Makes $400K Off Loose Change

San Diego fliers leave behind $5,128
By Erika Okano and Sarah Grieco
Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 | Updated 2:36 PM PST
Source: TSA Makes $400K Off Loose Change | NBC San Diego
Turns out those airport security checkpoints aren't just for your safety, they are also a source of funds for the Transportation Security Administration.

Travelers left behind $409,085.56 in loose change in 2010. Not only did they ditch their pennies, dimes and quarters at the checkpoints, but they also left behind foreign currency.

Nico Melendez, spokesperson for TSA, said when people go through security checkpoints they typically leave behind the change from their pockets in the plastic bins.

“TSA puts (the leftover money)in a jar at security checkpoint, at the end of each shift they take it, count it, put it in an envelope and send it to the finance office," he said.

So it's not a free-for-all for TSA officers?

Nope, said Melendez, it all goes into the general operating budget for TSA. The money typically goes toward technology, lightbulbs or just overall general expenses.

But it's not money they expect each year.

“The TSA can’t depend on that amount because we never know what it’s going to be," said Melendez.

The total numbers have been pretty consistent, although trend slightly upward. In 2008 the total was $364,000 and 2009 was $399,000.

“It is amazing,” Melendez said, “All that change, it all adds up.”

The TSA said it does everything it can to get items back to passengers, but if no one claims the money, it is used to finance operations.

Melendez said larger airports typically have more money simply because there are more people traveling through.

Here are some of the numbers for the U.S.'s biggest airports:


John F. Kennedy International in New York - $46,918.06
Los Angeles International - $19,110.83
Hartsfield Atlanta International - $16,523.83
San Francisco International - $15,908.02
Miami International - $15,844.83



Source: TSA Makes $400K Off Loose Change | NBC San Diego

NateTheGreat said...

Great job TSA! Thanks for keeping all of us safe! :-]

Roger said...

Was a single one of these items detected by "advanced imaging technology"? Would a single one of these items not have been detected by pre-"advanced imaging technology" screening procedures?

Anonymous said...

"A passenger at Miami (MIA) was concealing a steak knife with a 4” blade in their shoe. We found it…"

Wow! A steak knife! Really? My God, the next thing you'll find is someone's knitting needles! Hold on, those are ok and way more dangerous than a steak knife. Hold it, I'm confused...

No, the TSA is confused! Good job on the steak knife though! I'm sure your crack TSO force sees that as a huge coup, perhaps the biggest event in the TSO's professional life!

How long with the Steak-Knife Criminal spend in jail? Ten years? More?

Anonymous said...

And, as always, none of these people intended harm to their or any other flight, none were charged with terrorism, and anything truly dangerous would have been detected with plain old WTMD and bag x-rays. Right, Curtis?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Why no mention of the C-4 you guys discovered last week, Bob?

patient registration said...

It must be shocking the things you find on passengers. It is true that there are those that are harmless but there those ones that are maliciously set up. like the green stuff in a lotion bottle that had been cut up and glued back together!
And that money from change?

Anonymous said...

Didn't you guys catch about 5 pounds of C4 last week? I heard it was caught on the return flight and missed on the outbound flight. That's still a 50% detection rate. That's better than the previous detection rate that I've heard. Also it's consistent with the 50% cupcake confiscation rate.

Anonymous said...

Which charity is the TSA going to donate that $400k to?

Anonymous said...

And $50 worth of burritos from the guys at Gizmodo.

And you still haven't talked about the C-4.

Anonymous said...

Just so everyone knows, that green leafy substance is likely marijuana, also known as mary jane, hash and pot.

As for the lipsticks with extra features, I would not have thought to check lipsticks. Will ladies have to now place their lipsticks (and the rest of their cosmetics) in a separate bag and have that bag hand-inspected? You do know that terrorists could recruit women to gas pilots with lipstick mace and then slit their throats with the lipstick knives. Reminds me of 11th September 2001 where terrorists killed pilots with box cutters and crashed the planes into buildings. Administrator Pistole better get on that one quick! Of course if we put four trained, verified sane and armed air marshals on every flight entering US airspace the chances of a terrorist repeating 11th September would be just about nil.

Anonymous said...

Were any of these items intended for criminal or terrorist use? If not - they are harmless.

A lipstick stun gun is likely meant to protect the owner, not attack anyone.

It continues to be utterly silly to publish these ridiculous lists of "scary items" to validate the TSA. None of the people carrying those items intended to use them to hijack a plane.

tramky said...

Some of this is pretty absurd, but then there is the matter of the $40,000 in cash that was confiscated by TSA agents at an airport recently. Oh, sorry, it was stolen--sorry for the confusion. That little distinction is often lost at TSA checkpoints these days. I still want my $32 pocketknife returned to me--the one that was stolen--uhhh, confiscated--by the TSA at SFO. It may be trivial to the TSA, but that $32 I spent for that pocketknife was VERY real to me, and it was stolen--confiscated--by the TSA. They can couch it in whatever terms they want, but that pocketknife was stolen under duress. At the time it was confiscated I had these choices:
1. let TSA steal it
2. return to the check-in-counter 200 yards away and at another level of the terminal and demand that the airline retrieve the already-check bag that was now in the bowels of the baggage system downstairs so I could put the pocketknife into it, then return to the security line and undoubtedly stand in line again and miss my flight or
3. choose to not fly at all so I could keep the knife, and lose the non-refundable airfare AND get to pay the airline for a booking change, probably $100 or $200.

The 4th option--to be respected as an American who would do NOTHING to harm anyone or anything on a commercial airliner, and to have the Constitution of the United States respected and adhered to by TSA--was of course decidedly NOT an option.

tramky said...

Why is it that belts--you know, those leather straps that hold our pants up--not confiscated by TSA. Or eyeglasses. They are fine weapons in the hands of trained thugs, and pretty effective even in the hands of the average person. They are just about the only remaining means of defense left to citizens on airliners when the TSA gets through with us. Airliners are defense-free zones, just as are schools. You may have the right to defend your person on an airliner, but have been stripped of the capability by TSA.

Anonymous said...

NateTheGreat said:

Great job TSA! Thanks for keeping all of us safe! :-]

You are aware, are you not, that in spite of all of these "great finds" that TSA has allowed about 5 pounds of explosives through their checkpoint at Fayetteville, NC, no?

Which brings up an interesting point, Bob. Why aren't you discussing the failure of your screeners to find explosives?

Anonymous said...

Bob,

If items like C-4 and smoke grenades that we know were found at a checkpoint are deliberately and purposely left off you weekly lists, how can the public trust anything the TSA publishes?

Anonymous said...

Why should they mention the c-4? So you can rip them apart for finding it? The TSA isnt spreading why not thank them for finding it?

RB said...

So how much C4 explosives did TSA miss this week?

Anonymous said...

The TSA constantly brags about the things that they find during their warrentless searchs. However, I NEVER hear them discuss any DANGEROUS INTENT of any of the passengers that are involved. Without intent, there is NO DANGER!!

The TSA is an UNAMERICAN DANGER to our freedom.

Anonymous said...

More non-news.

The reality is that someone who is smart and determined will be able to get a weapon past your security.

It doesn't make any difference what new procedures you add or what new scanners you buy, it's impossible to stop it.

The United States air transport system is too big and too many people have access to the inside of the airports to keep anything bad from happening anywhere.

If the guards in a prison can't prevent contraband from getting in, what chance does the TSA have in an airport?

The TSA security is just there to make people think that something is being done, not to actually protect them.

Anonymous said...

I'd ordinarily try to rebut some of the objections voiced here, but it's clear that they are unreasoning complaints from people who could never be convinced.

I guess they'll just have to drive, or maybe walk.

P.F. Bruns said...

How did you ever find that chainsaw? Man, that must have been difficult.

Sandra said...

I don't see the two empty aluminum water bottles that were taken from our checked luggage in Atlanta. Oh wait, I guess they will show up in next week's report.

Screen shot taken.

Anonymous said...

"Of course if we put four trained, verified sane and armed air marshals on every flight entering US airspace the chances of a terrorist repeating 11th September would be just about nil."

The chance of another 9/11 is already nil with hardened cockpit doors. The FAM program is another ridiculous waste of money.

RB said...

I think we should congratulate TSA for the C4 find.

They got that one on the second try, so that puts TSA at 50% on attempts.

And the cupcakes, again 50%. At least TSA is consistent on the misses.

Seems to confirm the Red Team test numbers released a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

"I guess they'll just have to drive, or maybe walk."

Nah, we're reforming aviation security through legislation. Stand by for the changes - there is significant activity occuring in committee although I don't suspect it will be finished until after the next election.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I'd ordinarily try to rebut some of the objections voiced here, but it's clear that they are unreasoning complaints from people who could never be convinced."

What's clear is that you have no real argument, so have instead decided to resort to personal insults,

If you have something useful to say, then say it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bob -

I guess the operators of the perfectly safe scanners are going to get dosimeters. So, which is is: Are the scanners safe, making this a waste of money or is there doubt regarding safety?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Why no mention of the C-4 you guys discovered last week, Bob?


What- You actually believe these 'lists' they post bear any relation to reality??

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

What- You actually believe these 'lists' they post bear any relation to reality??

Yes actually I do after being in Tampa when one of those guns was found. I would have preferred being in front of the offending party instead of after, because as Bob stated it does add to wait times (waiting for police to come).

Anonymous said...

Bummer you missed a gun too:
http://www.myfoxdfw.com/dpp/news/Plane-Left-Gate-With-Gun-on-Board-DFW-Airport-Says-011812

...and C4... and what else?

Oh, but you got the cupcakes!

Winston said...

"Gassed up and Lipstick" sounds like some one most of us here have come to loathe...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...

What- You actually believe these 'lists' they post bear any relation to reality??

Yes actually I do


Then where's the mention of the C-4 from the other week, or the Cupcake??

That's proof that the TSA lies by omission. With such a record of lying, it's possible, even likely, they are lying in other ways, too. Such as by exaggerating, or even outright adding items.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Then where's the mention of the C-4 from the other week, or the Cupcake??"

You can read the company response about the cupcake here:

http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/cupcakegate.html?showComment=1326980821455#c9089909524415889384

We did a write-up about it all by itself.

West
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
Anon sez - "Then where's the mention of the C-4 from the other week, or the Cupcake??"

You can read the company response about the cupcake here:

http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/cupcakegate.html?showComment=1326980821455#c9089909524415889384

We did a write-up about it all by itself.

West
TSA Blog Team

January 19, 2012 10:29 AM

............
Didn't do a write-up about TSA missing two bricks of C-4 though.

Birmingham Homes by Vinnie Alonzo said...

What does TSA do with the confiscated firearms? Is there a government auction somewhere or does TSA just destroy them and send them in to be melted down?
I can't believe idiots still try to bring guns on a plane undeclared in carry on bags. Should I use the term ignorants instead of idiots?

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
We did a write-up about [the cupcake] all by itself.

Yes, I know. But it wasn't included in the 'TSA Week In Review', which is what was being referred to.

What other stuff do you find, that isn't included?

The C-4, for sure.

I also don't recall a mention (or a separate post) about the TSA screener who brought a gun to work.

Or the screener who took bribes to allow drugs (which, for all he knew, could have been explosives!) through the checkpoint.

Mentioning only the 'good' finds is lying by omission.

Anonymous said...

Another thing we'll probably never hear about:

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/01/20/attorney-woman-with-gun-at-dfw-passed-through-during-shift-change/

Woman makes it onto a plane with gun. Turns out the guy watching the X-ray "had left" and then "another gentlemen came and sat in that seat and he was adjusting the computer monitor".

Way to go, TSA! Lemme guess- 'we'll re-train them', Right?

Anonymous said...

RB said...
GSOLTSO said...
Anon sez - "Then where's the mention of the C-4 from the other week, or the Cupcake??"

You can read the company response about the cupcake here:

http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/cupcakegate.html?showComment=1326980821455#c9089909524415889384

We did a write-up about it all by itself.

West
TSA Blog Team

January 19, 2012 10:29 AM

............
Didn't do a write-up about TSA missing two bricks of C-4 though.

January 19, 2012 3:12 PM

---------------------

Because TSA didn't miss two bricks of C-4, they found it. And yes lets spread around the face that TSA found explosives on a plane that will make people want to travel more....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Because TSA didn't miss two bricks of C-4, they found it.

They found it in the RETURN TRIP, just like the cupcake. That means it successfully made it onto a plane once.

Anonymous said...

"Because TSA didn't miss two bricks of C-4, they found it. And yes lets spread around the face that TSA found explosives on a plane that will make people want to travel more...."

No, the TSA missed the C4 in North Carolina. The 50% detection rate approximates TSA's poor detection performance.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Because TSA didn't miss two bricks of C-4, they found it. And yes lets spread around the face that TSA found explosives on a plane that will make people want to travel more...."

No, the TSA missed the C4 in North Carolina. The 50% detection rate approximates TSA's poor detection performance.

January 21, 2012 11:05 AM

------------

Says the guy who just got caught with bricks of C-4. There is no evidence....at all that TSA missed the c-4 other then the guy who was carrying it saying so, yeah lets trust him.

Anonymous said...

"Says the guy who just got caught with bricks of C-4. There is no evidence....at all that TSA missed the c-4 other then the guy who was carrying it saying so, yeah lets trust him."

There is little question that the C4 originated in NC - it's where the passenger had access. This points to a potentially huge security breach that a professional security organization would throroughly investigate, analyze and react to. Such investigations are what competent security organizations do.

And please don't tell me that the TSA can't comment. It already has and could easily say something like, "other details, including the possibility that the C4 in question passed through TSA security undetected, are being investigated."

GG said...

The astonishing thing to me seems that all these security warnings and what NOT to take on a plane have been widely publicised since years. People who can afford an airplane ticket are -as a rule- quite literate and when asked, if they had a driver's licence they would probably all carry one. Thus they know how to learn about rules, after all, there a hundreds of rules a car driver must know (and apply on a daily basis) - so why do these things still happen?

TSORon said...

GG said...
[[The astonishing thing to me seems that all these security warnings and what NOT to take on a plane have been widely publicised since years. People who can afford an airplane ticket are -as a rule- quite literate and when asked, if they had a driver's licence they would probably all carry one. Thus they know how to learn about rules, after all, there a hundreds of rules a car driver must know (and apply on a daily basis) - so why do these things still happen?]]

Generally GG, about 99.9% of the time, its common carelessness. We are all guilty of it from time to time, and while there is usually no criminal intent along with the carelessness there are those few out there who do these things knowingly, and intentionally. Their reasons vary from one person to the next, and only they can tell us “why” since mind reading is not a proven science. I can tell you that a small percentage of those who knowingly bring prohibited items to the checkpoint are doing so with the intent to eventually harm others. We call it “probing” our security. Some do it as a “political” statement, inane as that may be, but we can only speculate about most of the others.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...
I can tell you that a small percentage of those who knowingly bring prohibited items to the checkpoint are doing so with the intent to eventually harm others. We call it “probing” our security. Some do it as a “political” statement, inane as that may be

Are you seriously proposing that people are attempting to bring knives/guns/bombs aboard planes so they can harm people to make a political statement?

And you simply let these people go after confiscating their water..., er, knives?

TSA- keeping you safe from terrorists... by letting them go.

eric b said...

I REALLY didn't have to scroll down the long list of asinine complaints but i figured i needed a good laugh after yesterday!?!?! Oh boy, where would i start...well, i guess that's fitting...Right next to where i'm typing, "anon" said...just so we're clear...i'm not a terrorist but thank you for validating it every time i travel...tell me anon do you know what all terrorists' look like, are you 110% positive
the person sitting next to you on the plane (when you do travel)is NOT?!?! Granted the vast MAJORITY of people that we interact with everyday doesn't want to do us harm...however being that i have been around long enough i can honestly say that if people are going to go through enough trouble to put drugs into a loaf of bread and stick in their show...do you really think they are dumb enough to eat the bred after?!??! i mean seriously...it all reminds of a great line from a movie..."Very intersting...let's think about this for a second Ted"

Point taken!

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone freak out about this??? If you don't like it, don't read it! If you don't like the way the TSA does things, don't fly!! Seriously!! You can drive and/or take a boat too! The TSA really is trying to keep us safe. It's just one more thing if the TSA is only supposed to take things from "real terrorists". Well if any TSA agent could instantly tell who is actually a terrorist and who isn't then we wouldn't have this problem in the first place would we? If we leave it to the one TSA agent who happens to get a terrorist in his line that day and he/she is a little tired or just out of it and his/her job is just to look at everything and only take what is actually going to be used badly, then many people's lives are in his/her decision. It's rare for a true terrorist to come through the line, but let's say one does and they are carrying a gun or knife or some other kind of weapon, but so is everyone else in the airport, and when an agent finds these things he/she must decide if the person will truly be a danger or not. When they have had hundreds of other people with the same objects, this one person who happens to be a terrorist won't stick out. The agent is likely to let them through, and even if they do stop to really evaluate them, it's a 50-50 chance, but now that person is even better equipped than the 9-11 terrorists and could create a scene as bad or worse than 9-11. Just because that one TSA agent didn't quite judge them correctly.