Friday, April 6, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Hidden Compartments Found in Everyday Items


 Hidden Compartments Found in Everyday Items:  On the surface, the items looked like a bottle of water, a flashlight, an energy drink and a can of spray lubricant. However, each of these items had secret compartments. The flashlight compartment contained a baggie of cocaine. These items were discovered in checked baggage at Portland, Maine (PWM). It’s just another example to show you how everyday household items can be used to conceal prohibted items.

Hidden Compartments Found in Everyday Items:  On the surface, the items looked like a bottle of water, a flashlight, an energy drink and a can of spray lubricant. However, each of these items had secret compartments. The flashlight compartment contained a baggie of cocaine. These items were discovered in checked baggage at Portland, Maine (PWM). It’s just another example to show you how everyday household items can be used to conceal prohibted items.

Dishing the Dirt: Two knives were discovered concealed inside a bag of dirt at Pasco (PSC). Some might call this a “dirty trick.”

Dishing the Dirt: Two knives were discovered concealed inside a bag of dirt at Pasco (PSC). Some might call this a “dirty trick.”

Soundboard Concealing Heavy Metal: In this case, the heavy metal would be a gun and 50 rounds of ammunition that was found duct taped to the inside of the console. This was found in checked baggage at Des Moines (DSM).

Soundboard Concealing Heavy Metal: In this case, the heavy metal would be a gun and 50 rounds of ammunition that was found duct taped to the inside of the console. This was found in checked baggage at Des Moines (DSM).

Mayonnaise: While mayo can often be the perfect ingredient to add moisture and flavor to a sandwich, it cannot conceal items from our X-rays. At New York Kennedy (JFK), a utility tool/knife was found submerged in a full jar of mayo. The jar of mayo was a poor choice by the way, since it’s prohibited due to our liquid policy.

Audio Booster Concealment Method: Officers at Nashville (BNA) discovered a knife concealed in the battery tray of an audio booster for headphones. Put this one up there along with the peanut butter and mayonnaise concealment methods as a fail. 

Loaded guns, knives.

People Say the Darndest Things: Here is an example of what not to say at the airport. Statements like this not only delay the people who said them, they can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

A passenger at Springfield (SPI) told our X-ray Officer: “I have a grenade with two pins in my bag.” No grenade was discovered and the passenger stated they were just upset about a flight cancelation the previous night.

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, an boatload of knives, ammunition, and batons.

9 loaded guns.
Firearms: Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

27 firearms discovered. 24 were loaded.
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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

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.

 
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

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why aren't you blogging about the TSA clown who threw hot coffee in the pilot's face at JFK?

Anonymous said...

Hey Bob, can you make mine the first comment so the conspiracy folks say that pro TSA replies are from folks sitting in the cubicles next to you and cherry-picked?
Oh by the way - Go TSA!

Fishstick said...

Before we start, just a reminder this post is made to point out to those who would try that if you attempt to conceal things such as this you will be caught.

Note that most if not all of those involved were probably probably not related to terrorism and therefore were not arrested.

Also, some of these items are not deadly they could be used to threaten the average person into taking action contrary to security and thus are prohibited.

If you tell TSA you have an explosive device they are probably going to look for it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a law enforcement officer. I have seen plenty of ingenious ways criminals use to to conceal everything from handcuff keys to weapons to drugs. A lot of the techniques and methods used are photographed and and placed in bulletins which are then shared across different law enforcement jurisdictions in order to assist law enforcement officers across the country with the latest information or example. The great majority of these bulletins are Limited Official Use information which are released and shared only among law enforcement agencies. There is a reason for that. We want the information to spread faster throughout the crime fighting community than the criminal community because it helps us to stay plenty of steps ahead of the criminals. I am amused to find the exact opposite happening here with the way TSA showcases the examples they find. What is the logic behind sharing this information on TSA's agency blog?

Kat said...

Blogger Bob said, "Mayonnaise: While mayo can often be the perfect ingredient to add moisture and flavor to a sandwich, it cannot conceal items from our X-rays. At New York Kennedy (JFK), a utility tool/knife was found submerged in a full jar of mayo. The jar of mayo was a poor choice by the way, since it’s prohibited due to our liquid policy."

Riddle me this one, Blogger Bob. Why is that 4 ounces of chicken salad between two slices of bread in a sandwich bag is an acceptable snack to carry on, but that same four ounces of chicken salad in a covered plastic dish is a menace to aviation?

Or, if I carry on SIX ounces of cooked and chopped chicken, and 3.4 ounces of mayonnaise (which might be considered a menace since TSOs frequently don't know that the policy IS 3.4 ounces, since the TSA will not change the airport announcements and signs to give accurate information), and then mix them, to make a whopping nearly ten ounces of chicken salad, that's just fine. But if I bring it already mixed, it's a problem.

Why?

Anonymous said...

Who cares? TSA didn't shut down any airports for this. Media wasn't notified. After viewing these catches one wonders when your failures will get any mentions in your week in review (Example would be the incident at JFK.) Release last years results of "red team" and compare them to the private sector and let the public on this site determine if privatation is worth while.

Anonymous said...

"On the surface, the items looked like a bottle of water, a flashlight, an energy drink and a can of spray lubricant. However, each of these items had secret compartments. The flashlight compartment contained a baggie of cocaine. These items were discovered in checked baggage at Portland, Maine (PWM). It’s just another example to show you how everyday household items can be used to conceal prohibted items."

Wow! These things could clearly be used to hide drugs! Or explosives! But actually just drugs! We're not looking for drugs, they just happen to be the only thing we ever find. That and brass knuckles. Well worth the obscene amount of money we pay you folks!

Thank God these sick junkies didn't just conceal their drugs on their sides, right?

[Prohibited: P-R-O-H-I-B-I-T-E-D. Do you people even have a spell check!]

@SkyWayManAz said...

TSA Screeners Arrested Week in Review: According to the New York Post a screener at JFK was arrested March 28th for throwing hot coffee on a pilot. The off duty pilot was exiting the checkpoint when he overheard a profanity laced conversation from TSA screeners. He asked they "conduct themselves more professionally in uniform and not use profanity or the n-word." The response from the TSA screener was to mind his own business and more profanity. At this point he grabbed a screeners ID badge, presumably to file a complaint with their number, and the screener threw hot coffee on him. The screener was arrested on "harassment and misdemeanor-assault charges."
Now I would agree that if you are in the screeners shoes and that pilot grabbed at you like that you don't know his intent. You don't know if he's going to assault you but that was an extreme reaction to put it mildly. The pilot is not the one who created or escalated the initial situation. That was already well out of control before he appeared on the scene. This was not a professional doing their job presented with a split second decision out of the blue on how to protect themselves. This was someone out of control having a tantrum who needed to put in a time out. There is no excuse for this type of behavior being witnessed by anyone. I know of someone who worked for an airline and had a customer attack them. They got fired, not because they had had airport police take charge of the customer, but because their reaction to being assaulted was to utter, “F***!”. It was simply not acceptable to have an employee in uniform use that kind of language under any circumstances. Like I have said in several previous posts and no doubt will continue to say TSA culture continues to allow screaming at passengers. The screeners using that language need to be terminated period.
You know it really is sad TSA couldn’t go one week without Screeners Gone Wild back in the news. The public has the right to expect TSA live up to “Integrity, Team Spirit, Innovation” on your seal. Can you explain to us which one of those values was on display at JFK that day? There will always be haters that TSA even exists but they’d be an extreme fringe if you hadn’t given the IRS a run for its money for most hated government agency.

Anonymous said...

8 with rounds chambered! Just takes one person mishandling or owner forgetting round chambered. Good Work.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said:
"Here is an example of what not to say at the airport. Statements like this not only delay the people who said them, they can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:"

Why should what people say make any difference? If your normal screening is effective you will know if there is a bomb or not.

If someone saying they have a bomb triggers extra screening this implies that your normal screening might be missing bombs.

I can understand being annoyed when someone says something stupid, but why does it make a difference in the screening? If you are depending on terrorists to announce their explosives you have a serious problem.

Chris Boyce said...

"On the surface, the items looked like a bottle of water, a flashlight, an energy drink and a can of spray lubricant. However, each of these items had secret compartments. The flashlight compartment contained a baggie of cocaine. These items were discovered in checked baggage at Portland, Maine (PWM). It’s just another example to show you how everyday household items can be used to conceal prohibited items."

Tell us why, once again, cocaine is a "prohibited item"?

..and, at least spell "prohibited" correctly next time.

Anonymous said...

"Keep up the great work TSA as I am angry to read of those who think any of this is funny as well as this is from a wife of someone who puts his life on the line everyday for these people who dont know what they can bring on an airplane as well as anyone who thinks what you do or find is funny."

Can you explain, exactly, how your husband "puts his life on the line everyday?" Is it the drive to and from the airport? In TUS, there are a couple of screeners for whom I believe showing up to work is life-threatening but the threat is morbid obesity. Has a screener ever been killed in the line of duty? Given the attack on the man attempting to leave the airplane a couple of years back who was killed, I believe passengers are at FAR greater risk than screeners.

"Its a privledge to fly, so if you dont like the rules or the pat down...Dont FLY..."

Not legally, it isn't. Access to common modes of transportation - air travel on airline qualifies - is absolutely a right. It's that simple. Do you believe the government could deny air travel to an ethnic group, for example since it's only a privilege?

"Its that simple."

Yes, it is.

"You would not believe the ignorant people TSA employees deal with on a daily basis, so give them some credit."

You would not believe the ignorant TSA policies we have to endure on a daily basis, none of which provide the security we deserve.

"After all, its your life on the line if someone like my husband is not on your flight. Bet you wont think its funnt then, will you?"

How about you let me worry about my life and you worry about yours? In the meantime, follow the Constitution and I won't have to have you replaced. Deal?

Anonymous said...

This week's TSA Week in Review has left me breathless. Color me impressed. All these wonderful catches in action. BOB you should compare these results with the "red team's" results and show the public how great TSA is. Or reveal to the public how many officer's fail their yearly testing.
Keep up the marvelous work your 50,000 employees do on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

So, mayo is considered a liquid? REALLY? And according to your list, peanut butter is as well?

I must be missing some new culinary delight, as I've NEVER had liquid mayo or peanut butter before.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Good job catching all those terrorists. You did have them arrested and charged, right? Right?

And if you didn't have them arrested and charged, they weren't really a threat to anyone were they?

TSA Security Theater at its finest.

Will said...

The purpose of this given post is to inform, warn or remind passengers, not to try concealing things, or to double check their luggage, in order to cause less trouble and delay at the checkpoints.

I doubt that, because of this information, someone will get more creative the next time and will try other ways to hide objects. For the same reason criminal movies would have been forbidden too, but they are not. And of course if someone makes a threat (real or imaginary), he/she have to be rechecked again.

Anonymous said...

How is mayo a liquid? Banning a whole state of matter is already ridiculous but you just made the TSA sound even crazier.

Anonymous said...

None of these items required a body scanner to find.

Anonymous said...

So is Cocaine now a TSA prohibited item? Really - what does running a dragnet for drugs have to do with preventing terrorist activity on a flight? Are you now part of DEA?

Mission creep at it's finest.

Sommer Gentry said...

Your agency is a bad joke, and no one is laughing, Bob. None of these items was a threat to the aircraft, because none of the people carrying them were terrorists. If they had been terrorists, they could have caused much more mayhem by bombing the crowded area that TSA created just prior to the checkpoint.

How about a comment on the TSA screener who admitted on camera today (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CV_tJv7P2o) that the body scanners frequently miss guns, knives, and bombs, and that she was forced to work with a machine that gives doses of ionizing radiation even though she had not received *any* training on how that machine works?

TSA is a failed agency that abuses innocent people with impunity. You guys couldn't protect a turkey from Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Why aren't you blogging about the TSA clown who threw hot coffee in the pilot's face at JFK?

April 6, 2012 5:52 PM
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As far as the coffee incident - I guess you guys didn't read the line "...... before trying to grab the ID tags of screener El to get her name......"
Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As far as the coffee incident - I guess you guys didn't read the line "...... before trying to grab the ID tags of screener El to get her name......"
Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!

You clearly do not have the discipline to be a Federal officer. If I knew your name, I'd be sending your comment to the Inspector General.

chancer said...

How many things are being concealed in CHECKED bags because people are sick and tired of the sticky fingers of baggage handlers and the 50/50 chance that their items will be stolen from the bags they are no longer able to lock.....

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!"

>>>>>>>>>>>

That would be the explanation you would be giving a judge. I wonder how that judge will accept that defense? Remember, in the end, the Screener got arrested for her actions---not the pilot.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!"

>>>>>>>>>>>

That would be the explanation you would be giving a judge. I wonder how that judge will accept that defense? Remember, in the end, the Screener got arrested for her actions---not the pilot.

April 11, 2012 4:01 PM
---------------
She hasn't gone to trial yet. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As far as the coffee incident - I guess you guys didn't read the line "...... before trying to grab the ID tags of screener El to get her name......"
Reagardless of why the pilot attempted to grab her tags, at the point that he reached for her, he was committing assault. I would have made sure it was hot, black, and scalding and went for his eyes!

You clearly do not have the discipline to be a Federal officer. If I knew your name, I'd be sending your comment to the Inspector General.

April 10, 2012 11:32 PM
-----------------
I never said I was one. but you are right. I do not have the temperment to deal with people all day long that act like they have a sense of entitlement, can't read simple signs that are posted all over the airport about what is prohibited or act like they have lived under a rock since 9/11, then come on here and whine.

Anonymous said...

chancer said...
How many things are being concealed in CHECKED bags because people are sick and tired of the sticky fingers of baggage handlers and the 50/50 chance that their items will be stolen from the bags they are no longer able to lock.....

i lock my bag all the time i have a tsa lock. nothing has been stolen. its funny how when things are taken how its the tsa's fault. theres no way that skycab or rampo agent would take anything knowing that the tsa will get the blame.
if you dont want to buy a tsa lock use zipties, if your bag needs to be opened put a some extras in your bag and a note asking that a new one be put on, ive done this as well and have never had an issue, more than a million miles a year.

Anonymous said...

As a frequent traveler, I am delighted to see that the TSA is consistently catching dangerous items. Kudos to all the hard-working TSA employees out there who are trying to make the skies a little safer. My wife, daughter and I thank you profusely.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"As a frequent traveler, I am delighted to see that the TSA is consistently catching dangerous items."

What do you base your claim of "consistently" on?

Since the TSA won't allow independent testing we have no idea how much they are missing. For all you know, they may only be catching 1% of the stuff that goes through the checkpoint.

Personally, I see the lack of testing as an admission of failure. If they thought they could pass they would be happy to do it and advertise the results.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
So, mayo is considered a liquid? REALLY? And according to your list, peanut butter is as well?

I must be missing some new culinary delight, as I've NEVER had liquid mayo or peanut butter before.

April 8, 2012 8:25 AM
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Then I guess you've never had those little packs that they give out as condiments when you buy a sandwich or a bagel at a kiosk or fast food place.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
So, mayo is considered a liquid? REALLY? And according to your list, peanut butter is as well?

I must be missing some new culinary delight, as I've NEVER had liquid mayo or peanut butter before.

April 8, 2012 8:25 AM
-------------
Then I guess you've never had those little packs that they give out as condiments when you buy a sandwich or a bagel at a kiosk or fast food place.

April 19, 2012 12:42 PM
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or the squeeze bottles that are so popular (and overpriced - you actually pay more per ounce for an item that is watered down!).

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Springfield!. It's kind of amazing the things people try to pull these days. I don't see how it's worth it.