Saturday, January 7, 2012

TSA Week In Review: Teargas Grenade and a Speargun – Plus more!

Spear gun, live tear gas grenade, knives, modified cell phone. I hope everybody’s having a great new year so far! This is the first Week in Review of 2012 and we’ve already got some interesting good catches to share with you. Also, if you haven’t read it yet, check out our TSA Top 10 Good Catches of 2011.
Speargun: The passenger who tried to bring this on the plane at Salt Lake City (SLC) didn’t realize spear guns were prohibited. In case you’re wondering, he wasn’t wearing flippers.  
Live Teargas Grenade: You just have to scratch your head sometimes, but yes, a passenger at Phoenix (PHX) attempted to bring a live teargas grenade (see photo) on the plane in their carry-on. Dispersed Teargas Grenade + Pressurized Cabin = Pandemonium.
Four Knives In One Bag: A passenger at Detroit (DTW) had not one, but four knives. Not your everyday pocketknives either… (See Photo)
Katara Dagger: This unique item was found in a carry-on bag at Bradley (BDL). A Katara (see photo) is a push dagger from India.
Modified Cell Phone: This phone (see photo) looked a little suspicious so we had to take a closer look. The passenger who was flying out of Des Moines (DSM) stated he modifies electronics and uses this phone to also open and close his garage door and control the lights in his house. I’ve posted before on how this kind of gadget can cause problems at the checkpoint. Read it here…
Inert Hand Grenades: Two inert grenades were found this week. One in a checked bag at Norfolk (ORF) and another in a carry-on bag at Orange County (SNA). Read here and here why even inert grenades at the airport are a problem even though they can’t explode.
Knife Concealed Under Wheelchair Seat: A passenger at Chicago O’Hare had a knife on their person that was discovered during a pat-down. The passenger was permitted to leave the checkpoint so they could check or ship the knife. When the passenger returned, the very same knife was found concealed underneath the seat of their wheelchair.
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found firearm components, ammunition, brass knuckles, stun guns, throwing stars, knives and more knives, and a blackjack.
Artfully Concealed Items: (Artfully concealed means that the prohibited item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through security)

A 16-year-old had a razorblade in the lining of his wallet in Aspen (ASP). He stated that he uses it for his skateboard.
See the story above about the knife concealed under the wheelchair seat at Chicago O’Hare (ORD).
Firearms: Our officers found 14 loaded firearms and 5 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 19 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 

12/31: SGU – Loaded .380 – HDN – Loaded .45 w/ Round Chambered
1/1: SLC – Loaded .380
1/2: LFT – Loaded .38 – SFO – Loaded .25 w/ Round Chambered -  SFO – Unloaded .22
1/3: IAH – Loaded .38 – DFW – Unloaded .38
1/4: PHX – Loaded .380 – ONT – Loaded .45 – ORD – Unloaded .45 – AUS – Loaded .40 w/ Round Chambered – ORD – Unloaded 9mm
1/5: MDW – Unloaded Firearm – OKC – Loaded .22 w/ Round Chambered – PHX – Loaded 9mm – SJC – Loaded .40 w/ Round Chambered – LIT – Loaded .38 – LGB – Loaded .380
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.