USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

TSA Top 10 Good Catches of 2011

Thursday, January 05, 2012
Snake, bird, inert landmines, stun phone, C-4 explosives, guns, knives in book, tactical spike.

Our officers have had some good finds this year at our checkpoints and we wanted to share our top 10 good catches with you. Some are dangerous, some simply look dangerous and can cause major delays, and others are just plain weird. Click on the links to read more about each good catch.

Top 10:

10) Snakes, turtles, and birds were found at Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX). I’m just happy there weren’t any lions, tigers, and bears...

9) A science project shut down a checkpoint at Omaha (OMA). I wonder if mentioning the shutting down of the checkpoint added enough flare to his presentation to score him some bonus points?

8) An artfully concealed non-metallic martial arts weapon called a “Tactical Spike” was found in the sock of a passenger at Pensacola (PNS) after being screened by a body scanner. The only thing I keep in my sock is my foot.

7) Inert landmines were found at Salt Lake City (SLC). I always travel with mine, don’t you???

6) A stun gun disguised as a smart phone was found at Los Angeles (LAX). Not very smart to travel with this stunning device.

5) A flare gun with seven flares was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Norfolk (ORF). Hmmm... pressurized cabin + 7 live flares = no good can come from this.

4) Two throwing knives concealed in hollowed out bookwere found at Washington National (DCA). Killer book...

3) Over 1,200 firearms were discovered at TSA checkpoints across the nation in 2011. Many guns are found loaded with rounds in the chamber. Most passengers simply state they forgot they had a gun in their bag.

2) A loaded .380 pistol was found strapped to passenger’s ankle with the body scanner at Detroit (DTW). You guessed it, he forgot it was there...

1) Small chunks of C4 explosives were found in passenger’s checked luggage in Yuma (YUM). Believe it or not, he was brining it home to show his family.

If you’re interested in reading about more finds such as these, be sure to read our weekly “TSA Week In Review” blog posts, posted every Friday.

Honorable mentions:

13) Invisible Space Aliens were detected at numerous checkpoints nationwide.

12) Five inert grenades were found in passenger’s bag at Newark (EWR).

11) 240 live fish were found swimming in 4 checked bags at Los Angeles (LAX).

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

Not one of these items would have gotten through screening before the TSA was created, either.

And, each taxpayer in the country could have kept their $91 contribution to the TSA budget, since the old system wasn't funded by tax dollars...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yawn.

wake me up when you catch an actual Terrorist.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I simply love the fact that the TSA blatently admits that it didn't stop a single terrorist threat on any aircraft in the entire united states.

Way to go, $1Billion dollars flushed straight down the toilet...

Who is going to find that the TSA is now in fact the terrorist?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"[T]he truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror."

Submitted by Jim P on

Let's see -- say I am trusted to carry a concealed weapon in Utah.

The way the law is written I can also carry concealed in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

So a few states trust me to carry a concealed weapon.

Now I walk into the SLC bound for a direct flight to DFW (Dallas-Fort-Worth). My travel on an airplane makes me a level III felon and a terrorist? Or is it I'm unsafe in the air, but I'm safe on the ground?

What about if commonly carry a multi-tool in a sheath on my belt? I have no criminal record and have never pulled it in an offensive manner. What makes me more likely to pull it on an aircraft?

Why were the passengers of Flight 93 able to bring down the aircraft with the simple restrictions back then?

The answer is simple -- it is not the weapon -- it is the intent. Once Flight 93 realized the intent, they took down the hijackers.

September 11, 2001 was a one time deal. It will never be repeated. If the laws and regulations on flyers were taken off on that day, I would feel infinitely safer.

Submitted by Rache on

The TSA could be good, effective, efficient, and it could respect the passengers that keep them in business. It could be a good organization. I don't want it to disappear, and I don't want snakes or unloaded guns or inert mines on my plane. But I want to make it through security without the loss of time and, yes, dignity, that the TSA seems determined to confiscate.

Step 1 to being a well liked organization: let people eat their cupcakes.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Guess what else was seized at aiport checkpoints?
The 4th Amendment
&
The 5th Amendment
How do you people sleep at night?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"Call me crazy, but am I the only person who does feel safer knowing that on my plane, there isn't someone with knives in their books, guns on their ankles and spikes in their shoes?"

You are assuming that the TSA is actually catching all those items and preventing them from getting on the airplane - very bad assumption.

The TSA is nothing but a modern version of the Maginot Line.

You are also assuming that keeping weapons off the plane makes you safer - also a very bad assumption. The TSA has actually created a great terrorist target in the security line. Your over all safety isn't any better.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Unknown wrote:
"What is funny to me is the fact that the majority of you people posted anonymously."

Haha! This comment comes from someone by the name 'Unknown'.

"What, pray tell, can anyone here offer as a solution?"

OK, here is my solution: Since 9/11, all attempted terrorists have been stopped by passengers. Therefore, give passengers more power.

Add a locked paintball gun and alarm button to every seat on the plane. Add cameras so that the pilot can see the passengers. If a passenger sees a terrorist trying to blow up the plane, he presses the alarm button. The co-pilot checks the monitor to see if the alarm is valid, and if so, unlocks all paintball guns with a switch. The terrorist won't stand a chance.

Submitted by Unknown on

Jim P....

Too bad TSA didn't even exsisted at the 911 crisis.

I love how ignorant most of these comments are. TSA doesn't solely focus on terrorism.

And in response to "why should airplanes be the only thing secured"....does it occure to you that an airplane is one giant vulnerable explosive at 30,000 feet in the air. It can be manipulated to go anywhere the target desires. Where as a bus or train does less damage.

Submitted by Robert F on

Uhmm, lets see, "Top Ten Finds" divided by 6.7 Billion Dollar annual budget. IS that's about $780,000,000 dollars per item. Great work DHS and TSA keep up the good work of spending us into oblivion. =)

Submitted by Anonymous on

"1.2 billion spent on airport screening, and this list is the best that they could do...."

I wish. Last year's budget was $8.1B.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I also think its funny how they say "you don't have a right to fly". They are right, too. "

Once and for all - I think I finally silenced the TSO who was making things up as he/she went - but Americans ABSOLUTELY have a right to fly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Unknown said...
"And in response to "why should airplanes be the only thing secured"....does it occure to you that an airplane is one giant vulnerable explosive at 30,000 feet in the air. It can be manipulated to go anywhere the target desires."

Locking the cockpit fixes that. Find a better excuse.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm not the TSA's hugest fan, but maybe commenting should be disabled if all it is going to be is a diatribarama. They are in the classic no-win position when it comes to the public.

I'm surprised to find the number of people who don't realize that there is a huge black market in smuggled exotic animals. Those snakes, fish and parrots are typically contraband and worth millions.

Talk to any prison or jail guard, Border Patrol Agent or Agriculture inspector about the amount of stuff concealed in food products. A creative criminal will find all kinds of places to conceal stuff. What's worse is that they will find a scheme to have a third party transport it, who doesn't have a clue as to what they actually have. A cupcake-sized chunk of Semtex or C4 detonated over the main spar of an aircraft wing is going to result in a huge smoking hole in the ground.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Just before Christmas, one of my presents -Play-Doh- was confiscated at Newark. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. The TSA lady was very nice and said it could be explosives, yet it's still incredibly ridiculous. I'm sure there could be another top 10 for this kind of find.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Great Catches!

Submitted by Jim P on

Now here's a question -- with play-doh, the shampoo, the water bottles, the cupcakes, etc. where do they put them after they are confiscated?

Generally in a plastic trash can right in the security area. If they were dangerous wouldn't they at least need to be put in a reinforced steel can?

As far as the confiscation of animals, drugs, money -- what does that have to do with aircraft security?

Submitted by Anonymous on

How many of these ten items would have been found using pre-9/11 security screening methods? I'm going to take a guess: all of them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And not one terrorist yet...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Your grade, F.

Submitted by John Lesle on

In fact all this carrying on by TSA is really one big win for the terrorists and dissidents. They have made the US spend billions that they would not have done pre 2001, and inconvenienced its citizens and visitors from all over the world, and eroded the civil rights that the US has long espoused and held up as a banner to the rest of the world. Even were they to never ever try another airline attack again, this has been a big victory for them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Too bad TSA didn't even exsisted at the 911 crisis."

It did but it was called the FAA. All screening was done under its auspices, much like the private screening is done under TSA "supervision."

"I love how ignorant most of these comments are. TSA doesn't solely focus on terrorism."

I'll bite. What does it focus on other than terrorism?

"And in response to "why should airplanes be the only thing secured"....does it occure to you that an airplane is one giant vulnerable explosive at 30,000 feet in the air."

Really? It is? I should be worried that it's going to spontaneously explode? To think, years of being an airline pilot, engineer and aircraft structural engineer, I had NO IDEA AT ALL!


"It can be manipulated to go anywhere the target desires."

The target of the explosion can manipulate the airplane? You mean the WTC towers manipulated the airplane? Wow! Fascinating!

"Where as a bus or train does less damage."

This is truly fascinating as well. During rush hour, a DC Metro station has tens of thousands of people inside.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I don't want snakes or unloaded guns or inert mines on my plane. "

You care if there are inert mines on the airplane? If TSA screening was at all effective at finding explosive, when someone pulled out a mine and made a threat, passengers would laugh. It's precisely the poor performance of TSA screening that makes the strongest argument for prohibiting inert items on the airplane; everyone knows that TSA performance is horrible, missing 70% of contraband.

It's also funny the poster worries about snakes and unloaded guns on airplanes. The passenger with antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is a MUCH larger risk yet the TSA provides no screening at all people with communicable diseases.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Why do people instantly jump to the conclusion that without the TSA we wouldn't have any security at the airport?"

On this blog, most of the people who use this argument are employed by the TSA. It's going to be a huge blow to them when the screening force is privatized.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Just before Christmas, one of my presents -Play-Doh- was confiscated at Newark. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. The TSA lady was very nice and said it could be explosives, yet it's still incredibly ridiculous. I'm sure there could be another top 10 for this kind of find."

I think I'll have bumper stickers made that say, "$100B spent on the TSA and it can't tell a cupcake from a bomb." The sequel will be "TSA: $100B spent and it can't tell Play-Doh from plastic explosive."

Submitted by Anonymous on

The cupcake was probably more of a threat than the C4. Without a detonator it is about impossible to detonate C4. You can heat it, hammer it, shoot it, microwave it and it will do less than the cupcake.....

Submitted by Anonymous on

We all want to fly on a plane that is safe. The fallacy that is being made is that only the federal government can accomplish this, and they can only do it by violating our rights and privacy.

Submitted by Anonymous on

These best catches of 2011... you can find that normal security could have just done as good as you.

And I like how my comment was not added previously(presumably it was deleted, more or less it was meant to ridicule the TSA).

From filtering posts with negative impact on their image, goes to show TSA can't stomach the truth. At all.

Whoever deleted my previous comment, you hate free speech. Seriously.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"From filtering posts with negative impact on their image, goes to show TSA can't stomach the truth. At all.

Whoever deleted my previous comment, you hate free speech. Seriously."

They have also gone back to deleting comments that note TSOs are not required to be high school graduates. I think the TSA (at least the blog masters) believe that a little free speech is a good thing but can't allow it to go too far.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA makes me sick. I mean you found some knifes and cutters and whatever else you get all proud of having found all along being completely oblivious to the fact that you are supposed to be catching TERRORISTS! Never mind the rest of this stuff which stuff was around for a hundred years before TSA ever entered the picture!

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA - Terrorist Seeking Administration?

Nope. TRANSPORTATION Security Administration. They secure transportation.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thank god all these terrorists were stopped. Oh wait. That would be a zero.

And I wonder how many of these things would have been caught by airline security pre-9/11? I would think all of them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Terrorists are mainly stopped before they cross borders. Intelligence and law enforcement work achieves this. Several suspects have been arrested, though, upon entering the U.S.

Comparing to international standards, TSA measures go too far and mostly have a negative impact on the U.S. travel industry and law-abiding travelers. I hope TSA revisits some of them, which would not affect security at all.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Does anyone get the fact that a metal detector would have caught most, if not ALL of these? TSA is a waste

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Nope. TRANSPORTATION Security Administration. They secure transportation."

Nah, they pretend to secure some aspects of a very limited spectrum of transportation.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"And yet the majority of these people were allowed to fly. Bob, how about an accounting of total fines levied this year for prohibited items?"

Yeah, where is that list? At least in this area, demand a jury trial. Unless you're a terrorist, you'll be acquited in record time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am sorry to say this but when your government keeps yelling wolf like the boy in the tale then people stop to take them seriously. Your loosing the information war and moral values that once the free world respected and followed. They suffer from information overload which is just as bad as not enough information. Your out of balance. Without taking heed of your forefathers founding document you are bound to repeat the same mistakes as those that came and went before you. My 10 cents worth from NZ.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"Why do people instantly jump to the conclusion that without the TSA we wouldn't have any security at the airport?"

On this blog, most of the people who use this argument are employed by the TSA. It's going to be a huge blow to them when the screening force is privatized.

************
Airports had private security on 9/11/01. That worked out well.

Submitted by Jim P on

And on 9/11 we had never had planes used not so smart missiles. One hour and six minutes after Tower II was struck we had Flight 93 go down in Pennsylvania. Where was the TSA?

A lesson was learned, rapidly. The hijacking model had changed. There will never be another 9/11.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Airports had private security on 9/11/01. That worked out well."

And everything the hijackers took on board was allowed by the predecessor of the TSA - FAA security. Private security was in no way implicated.

Submitted by Bill W on

Everybody who is complaining on here and advocating the dissolution of TSA (and I dislike it as much as anybody, flying 2-3 times per week), I assume that you would be OK with the occasional plane going down. If you can honestly say that, then you are at least consistent in your thoughts. Perfection is expensive, and unfortunately, the American people in general are not accepting of anything less than perfection. That last 1-2% is very expensive, but that's what we routinely demand. That's where Six Sigma came from.
This system was modeled in 2001 after the Israeli airport security system, so you probably should blame them while you're at it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I find it funny that most of the people say the tsa has not found 1 terroist. How about looking at it from this standpoint... Has anything happened post 9/11 since tsa took over? No. They are there to deter the terroist from attempting a plot against our country. sad that no one can sit back and see that.

Submitted by Jim P on

Bill W.,

Every single terrorist since Flight 93 (crashed on 9/11) has been taken down by the passengers.

There will never be another 9/11 from the simple fact -- the model has changed. The passengers prior to 9/11 had all been told to sit down, wait to land and let the negotiators deal with it.

On 9/11 the passengers of Flight 93 found out they were about to be used as Not-So-Smart Missiles. they took appropriate action. 9/11 was a one off event. The TSA was not needed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

OK... how many terrorists have you caught ? how many felons with warrants have you arrested ?
ans. NONE and mind you thats after al these years and all the airports in the USA. Why don't you use some common sense and search those ppl that fall under the description of terrorists and stop searching people that don't fit the terrorist profile..there is a profile USE IT .. and stop the searching of every 10th person you now use..there is no more room for political correctness..

Submitted by Anonymous on

with the exception of the non-metallic spike found in someone's sock, (not sure how that would be able to take down a plane - Bob?), all of these "good catches" were found (or could have been found) using less expensive & less invasive, and far healthier pre-9/11 technology - namely the baggage x-way & the metal detector. Tell me again why we need to be irradiated & get felt up to catch these?

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA may not be perfect, but it consists of more than just screeners, such as air marshals. People criticize the body scanners, but metal detectors only pick up metal. If any of you critics searched on how to make a bomb, you would see how easy it is to do. Next time you complain about liquids or taking off shoes, do a search of the shoe bomber, underware bomber etc, (these people are being screened initially outside of America). I'm sure if any of you lost someone on 9-11, you would be grateful for the extra security, I know I am.

Submitted by Jim P on

This may be a re-post of my earlier comment, but no one has challenged it yet.
==========================================
The TSA was not needed one hour and one minute after Tower II was hit!

The paradigm, the norm, the expected, what everyone was taught to do was to sit down, shut up and wait for the plane to land and the negotiations happen. That was the model from Entebbe onward.

The passengers on board did not really know what was about to happen on September 11, 2001 at 8:46:30 when Flight 11 struck Tower I.

Even the passengers on Flight 175 probably didn't realize what was about to happen when they struck Tower II at 9:03:02.

The Pentagon crash of Flight 77 at 9:37:46 may have been still a matter of ignorance.

At 10:03:11 on September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after the brave souls counter-attacked and caused the hijackers to crash the plane.

The time difference is 60 minutes and 9 seconds from Tower II being struck to the crash of Flight 93. The shoe bomber and panty bomber were taken down by fellow passengers as well. Recently, JetBlue's Flight 191 pilot was taken down by the passengers once he was out of the cockpit. Additionally how many times have you heard of passengers' concerns and diverted flights?

The TSA is and has always been a joke, no make that a total stupidity, that has wasted our country's fortune going down a rabbit hole.

If you don't believe me look at the 9/11 timeline.

There will never be another 9/11 style attack unless the attackers can arrange planes full of geriatrics, and even then it would be doubtful.

Submitted by Elliander on

How many of these items would have been caught by a combination of metal detectors, un-enhanced pat downs, and infrared cameras?

Why don't you use infrared cameras? I can buy a good one for a hundred dollars that can detect temperature variations inside the body. If you used this at an airport you could see at a glance everyone. You could detect if an object is hidden even inside the body because of temperature variations and since it doesn't have to emit anything to function you don't need to slow lines down. You could in fact use this simple technology to speed up lines and decrease the number of people stopped at the airport.

From what I understand about the body scanners they cannot detect objects inside the body, or pressed into the contour of the body. I recall reading about a known terrorist who pretended to defect and then blew himself up right next to a prince after going through an identical scanner in another country. He would have been caught if they didn't rely on the body scanners too much. Care to provide direct evidence that these scanners are worth the high cost to both tax payers and civil rights?

Pages