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A Look at the Dangerous, Scary, and Downright Unusual Items our Officers Found in 2012

Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Inert Mortar Round (ELP)

Top 5 Airports for Gun Finds: 1 - ATL, 2 - DFW, 3 - PHX, 4 - IAH, 5 - FLAfter screening 637,582,122 passengers in 2012 (around 1,746,800 a day), here are some of the more dangerous, scary, and downright unusual items our officers found in 2012. This post is a reflection of the outstanding work our officers are doing in the field thanks to their vigilance and attention to detail.

1,556* (*Updated 7/3/13) firearms have been discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. That’s a little over fourfirearms per day! Of those, 1,215 (78.7%) were loaded. Firearms have been found at a total of 199 airports with Atlanta (ATL) on top of the list - 95 in 2012.

A disassembled gun and ammunition concealed in three stuffed animals.Here are a few of the more notable firearm incidents:

A gun in a hollowed out book was discovered at Honolulu (HNL).While the number of firearms discovered this year might shock you, here are some explosively dangerous items that passengers attempted to travel with this year:

Six lbs. of black powder, detonation cords, and timing fuse were discovered at Grand Junction (GJT)

A live blasting cap was discovered in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Redmond (RDM).

In addition to the live explosives items mentioned above, we also find a lot of inert items that look like the real deal. The problem with these types of items is that we don’t know if they are the real deal until we call out the bomb experts, and sometimes even they have a hard time figuring it out. Inert items can lead to closed terminals and checkpoints, which usually result in canceled or delayed flights. Here are some of the more interesting inert items we’ve found so far this year:

An inert IED with a block of simulated SEMTEX-H, and a simulated blasting cap were discovered in checked baggage at Columbus (CSG).
A strange watch resembling an IED component was discovered at Oakland (OAK).
An inert detonator was discovered in a passenger’s pocket during a pat-down search after a Charleston (CHS) passenger alarmed the body scanner.
Eeels found in bag at Miami.

And of course, there are those items that fit into the odd/interesting category. A few examples would be bear mace in a sock, a spear gun, dead venomous snakes, a chastity belt, more cane swords than you could shake a cane sword at, a shocking amount of stun guns, a gassed up chainsaw, an 8oz. bottle of vodka discovered in a passenger's pants, a knife mounted on a walker, eels, prohibited bling, a marijuana filled grenade, another speargun, samurai swords, a stun cane, and jingle bell shotgun shells.

While this doesn’t fall into any of the categories above, it deserves to be mentioned that last August, two Behavior Detection Officers (BDO) at Miami (MIA) thwarted a kidnapping. Read more about it here.

You can check out our archives of TSA Week in Review posts to see pictures and read about many other instances where dangerous, scar, and odd items are found. Our Week in Review posts are published every Friday evening.

Speargun, swords, stun cane, chainsaw, and shotgun shells.

Bear mace, pen gun, gun in book, seal bombs, inert claymore mine.

IED training kits and intert explosives, grenade launcher, black powder, propane, det cord.

Inert bazooka, inert claymore mines, inert bazooka shell.

Powder Horn with black powder, powder flask with black powder, blasck powder primers, intert warheads.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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Comments

Submitted by RB on

After screening 637,582,122 passengers or 1,275,164,244.00 shoes TSA didn't find one single case of explosive shoes.

So why are people being made to remove shoes thereby subjecting their feet to a dangerous industrial area?

Submitted by Anonymous on

but my pocket knife from a camping trip got through. (after discovering it after the check point I took it back to the car....)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thank god & bless our vigilant airport security staff in making our travel a lot safer, i wish a blessing that our air travel continues safely in 2013

Submitted by Bankimkumar on

What a wonderful work done by TSA?!!!
You saved American lives to GREAT EXTENT.
Please continue such a best efforts in future years. TSA should get appreciation from whole world.
Best luck.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Gun in Stuffed Animals
Hmm I grew up with Mickey Mouse cartoons and always thought he was to good to be true - very glad he was found out on the day :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

okay, the south USA wins!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Good job! You cleared all those negative comments off the front page.

Submitted by Silent Night on

You still will find "them people" who will find fought, but let you're little heart not be troubled, noting will ever make "them people" happy. Keep up the great work TSO's and BDO'S.

Thank you

Submitted by JexQ on

In before the "oh, it's inert so it poses no danger" crowd.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is amazing. I will never for the life of me understand why someone would want to even try to transport some (any) of those items. On the plus side, at some point (once out of jail) we can be assured that they will be at least contenders for a Darwin award. And I suppose just as scary is that they still let these people breed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

MOST of what was "found" is/was inert. Does anyone at TSA know what "inert" means?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Very interensting post, thank you. As a travel manager this kind of encourages me to more strongly recommend telepresence and virtual meeting technology.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow. One single

h

u

g

e

post to push all the others off the front page. Good going, Bob.

Submitted by Anonymous on

i always find these blogs informative, humorous and sometimes baffling as to what stupid will normally do or take through an airport. Always a pleasure and thanks for the laughs Bob!

Submitted by HARIQBAL SINGH on

TSA IS DOING VERY GOOD JOB. ONE SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY OBJECTION FOR REMOVING SHOES, IT IS FOR OUR LIFE SECURITY AS COMMENTED BY RB

Submitted by Anonymous on

So why do you need full body scanners again? And why do we have to remove shoes??

Submitted by Anonymous on

When i see a couple IED's components being discovered you have to start to wonder if these arr just a isolated dumb mistakes or a trial and error approach by a larger group!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Still wondering what danger the chastity belt posed to our air travel.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Worst. Title. Ever. LOL!

Hilarious to see how quickly TSA employees are commenting anonymously or pseudonymously this time. As one put it, they had to hurry up and comment before people called Bob back to reality (on the inertness of many items).

Seriously, Bob, is that you posting these or these kinds of comments on your own blog post?

Otherwise, TSA employees are using gov't time and equipment to post on a gov't website without revealing their connection to TSA. That is very unethical. Is it also against TSA or DHS policy?

Have you checked into that, Bob? Fake comments and fake commenters? You have the IP addresses of commenters. Easy to see which ones are DHS or TSA domains.

Maybe look in the mirror or walk down the hall to your co-workers' offices?

Let's all get real for once, Bob. We aren't going to cower in fear in our homes because you cry, "DANGER!! TERRORIST!!! I HAVE NO REAL PROOF! BUT LOOK AT THIS SCARY THING!!!"

We're here. We have no fear. Get used to it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob said:

A Portland (PDX) passenger put a pistol in potted plant, presumably in an effort to sneak it past us.

___________________________________

I will ignore the rest of the lies and spin in the post and focus on this. You know damn well that the pistol was not put in the plant to sneak it past you. You know that he put it in the plant because he DIDN'T want to bring it to the checkpoint.

You, Bob, are a liar.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What is the big deal about finding these items? Isn't that your job? I don't see the point of announcing all of the guns. If you can't find a gun, what else would you be missing.

I have noticed that almost everything found is discovered by the metal detector and baggage x-ray. The body scanners seem to only find items that aren't a threat to aviation, like toothpaste or bottles of vodka. I don't see the benefit of the scanners when they have many health and privacy issues, along with how expensive they are.

How many of the people who had the prohibited items were charged with terrorism?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why do we still have to remove our shoes? Almost every other country does not require shoe removal anymore. No planes have fallen from the sky in those countries so their security must be as good as ours. By the way, the shoe bomber's flight didn't originate in the US.

How many explosive shoes have you found in the 10+ years since the shoe bomber's failed attempt? I hope you have found at least one since we still have to remove our shoes and no other countries require it.

Submitted by Wintermute on

And, out of ALL those travelers, how many terrorists have you caught? So, tell me again, with a lower percentage of terrorists on flights, why every passenger is a suspect, but with a higher percentage of thieves in your mists, every TSAgent is not?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What's frightening is what TSA didn't find.

Submitted by RB on

HARIQBAL SINGH said...
TSA IS DOING VERY GOOD JOB. ONE SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY OBJECTION FOR REMOVING SHOES, IT IS FOR OUR LIFE SECURITY AS COMMENTED BY RB

January 9, 2013 11:44 PM
>>>>>>>>>>>>
Since you mention me directly I ask of you to demonstrate that TSA is doing a very good job. What evidence can you show to support this claim?

I can show that from the last Red Team testing results available to the public that TSA screeners missed 70% of all target items.

I can show that DFW TSA screeners missed a handgun carried through DFW TSA checkpoints 5 out of 5 times by a TSA security tester.

I can show that a significant number of TSA employees are thieves, drug dealers, or other criminal types which cannot help improve airport security.

I can show that TSA doesn't screen all peoples who enter the secure areas of airports. How does that make anyone any safer?

I can show how TSA policies endanger peoples health. Just walking through a checkpoint with numerous hazards to peoples feet where TSA requires people to be shoeless is one such example.

TSA's use of unproven and untested Xray devices on people endangers everyone, especially TSA employees who are forbidden to wear a xray exposure dosimeter.

TSA's useless ID screening takes valuable manpower away from real screening functions yet offers exactly nothing of value in return, hardly makes anyone safer.

So HARIQBAL SINGH, I invite you to explain how TSA is making anyone more secure.

TSA as a whole is a complete eight billion dollar a year failure!

America deserves a better return on our taxes.


Submitted by Anonymous on

What's frightening is the stuff TSA didn't find.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am proud of the great job you are doing for our safety. Keep up the good work.

Submitted by Anonymous on

1,543 firearms have been discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. That’s a little over four firearms per day! To add some context, the number of passengers with guns represents less than 0.0002 percent of passengers that have been screened.

Funny how that works, Mr. Burns. Why is the number of TSOs fired for workplace crimes so small that you think we should easily dismiss it, but the infinitesimal number of passengers found with weapons is worth writing a weekly police log?

As the events of 9/11/01 become more and more a distant memory, with a new generation of travelers who were not even born that day, the backlash against your agency, and the feeling that its employees are putting Americans more in harm's way than keeping them safe, will only continue to mount.

But heck, the TSA pays your bills, so what do you care that you work for the most despised government agency out there.

[Screenshot captured]

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sorry guys, this stuff is pretty obvious on the screen. These folks still don't have all the training they need.

Submitted by Anonymous on

And yet:

None of these items were carried by terrorists.

No dangerous items found by your dangerous, invasive body scanners and "pat-downs."

No explosive shoes detected.

Why do you persist in a pointless shoe removal policy that makes no one safer?

Why do you persist in dangerous, untested scanners that make no one safer?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thank you TSA for the job you do. Please continue to check our shoes and have full body scans. As someone who travels a lot, I want to feel the safest I can when I board the aircraft.

Submitted by Anonymous on

That will be the next idea... I don't mind at all, usually wear sneakers to the airport

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Please continue to check our shoes and have full body scans. "

Why? Neither makes anyone any safer.

Submitted by RB on

I will ignore the rest of the lies and spin in the post and focus on this. You know damn well that the pistol was not put in the plant to sneak it past you. You know that he put it in the plant because he DIDN'T want to bring it to the checkpoint.

You, Bob, are a liar.

January 10, 2013 8:03 AM
................

Nothing new about that. Bob has steadily twisted the truth into unrecognizable shapes for years now. As a government employee who supposedly has ethics and honesty standards I fail to understand just why these TSA bloggers are on the government payrolls.

Guess those vision statements from TSA about ethics and standards don't really have any true meaning.

TSA wouldn't know the truth if it walked up to a TSA checkpoint.

Submitted by Manny O on

There is so much moaning about how things are so impractical or unneccesary and yet no one is making a motion. If the screening procedures are so invasive/damaging/concerning, don't fly. Another option, why not offer new ideas and solutions instead of ridiculing what is going on now?
Yes, there are a number of officers that fall short of standards (Like any large organizaion) but that doesn't mean they are all similar.

Congrats to the officers who stopped the random weapons and threats from coming through, Shame to officers who discredite the rest.

Hope people come with ideas and solutions instead of problems so we can progress as a nation.

Submitted by David on

I wonder what the thought process was...."Hmmm they won't find this grenade launcher....."

Submitted by RB on

After screening 637,582,122 passengers in 2012 (around 1,746,800 a day or 6,375,820,000.00 passengers over the last 10 years there has never been a one case of a shoe bomb on a US originating flight. Not one before 9/11 or after. Yet TSA subjects almost everyone to shoe removal which hazards our feet to a dangerous industrial area of moving bags, electric belts, carts and other items that could cause serious injury to our unprotected feet not to mention to completely unsanitary condition of TSA checkpoints. Anyone ever see a floor being cleaned at a TSA checkpoint?

Yet on the other hand TSA tells us that .04% of TSA employees being thieves or other criminals is no cause of concern since it is such a low number of people.

How can TSA state a 0% incidence of shoe bombs justifies everyone hazarding their feet for TSA yet 100's of TSA employees being thieves is nothing to worry about.

TSA claims to be security experts but it is clear based on TSA policies that TSA, under the direction of John S. Pistole, hasn't a clue about airport security.

Time to end the sick joke that TSA is.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA bragging about finding odd items like a Chasity Belt is proof that TSA's authorization to conduct limited Administrative searches for WEI only is being exceeded and is proof of TSA civil rights violations.

TSA has no authority to conduct general searches and doing so is a violation of the law.

People need to start filing complaints with the police over TSA screeners civil rights violations.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

5212 ridaysc@Anonymous:

"to feel the safest I can when I board the aircraft."

You do realize that there is a difference between "feeling" safe and actually "being" safe. The whole premise of the TSA is to make you "feel" safe. It does nothing to make you "be" safe.

And, Bob, where did you find all those who wrote comments in support of the TSA? Did an advisory go out to all employees to chime in? It's so very obvious.

screen shot

Submitted by Anonymous on

Interesting fact: several airports, EWR, JFK and some others found very few, if any, handguns. The states in which those airports are located have very strict concealed carry permits.

Just sayin'.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How about the pictures of the terrorists you found?

Submitted by Anonymous on

After screening 637,582,122 passengers or 1,275,164,244.00 shoes TSA didn't find one single case of explosive shoes.

So why are people being made to remove shoes thereby subjecting their feet to a dangerous industrial area?

-------

Yes, because airport security is such a highly industrial area. oh no cement is on my socks! whatever will I do?!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Another option, why not offer new ideas and solutions instead of ridiculing what is going on now?"

Nonsense. We've been offering new ideas and solutions for years:

End the shoe carnival; shoes are not dangerous and no other country shares TSA's fetish.

End the scanners; they're invasive, dangerous, take too long, and don't find anything dangerous.

End the BDO charade; there's zero science to back it up.

End the ID checks that do nothing to enhance security.

The problem is not that TSA's critics have nothing to offer. The problem is that TSA is so obstinate and resistant to truth and logic that it is not willing to engage with us.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Manny O said...
"There is so much moaning about how things are so impractical or unneccesary and yet no one is making a motion. If the screening procedures are so invasive/damaging/concerning, don't fly."

For many, not flying is not an option.

"Another option, why not offer new ideas and solutions instead of ridiculing what is going on now?"

We have. Countless times. In the comments on this very blog. Maybe try getting your facts straight before making a comment like that?


Anonymous said...

"As someone who travels a lot, I want to feel the safest I can when I board the aircraft."

And some say that this false sense of security you "feel" actually makes you LESS safe, not more.

Ever hear of the boy who cried wolf? Eventually, everyone started ignoring that boy. All those false alarms? Boys crying wolf. What happens when a wolf actually shows up? That false sense of security comes with a price.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Interesting how people cry civil rights violations at an airport checkpoint and nowhere else. Does one cry when a movie theater says you can't bring in your own food and drinks? Does one cry when you can't bring a weapon through a courthouse? How about if you're too big to fit in a ride at an amusement park? What do you mean I can't drive as fast as I want?
Nope...yet civil rights are violated at an airport...which civil rights are those? Show me where those rights are located. Buying a ticket is a contract. I want to fly therefore I won't bring the things they say I can't bring.

Seriously people...either quit crying or quit flying. Exercise your civil rights on the train or the roads...

Jeez... you americans are so soft...

Submitted by Atypical Oracle on

Okay, some of these items are insane and yeah, if you bring a bunch of inert explosives into a freaking airport, you shouldn't be confused as to why you get into trouble.

On the other hand, my solid brass-headed cane gets X-rayed every time I fly and I have to hobble around barefoot on a bad leg because I might be a terrorist. Never mind that the cane could actually be used as a weapon... I guess... they still let me take it on the plane. No one is going to seize control of an aircraft with nail clippers or a lighter or a chastity belt.

By now, I don't think you could seize control of a plane with a gun, much less anything else.

The TSA is a billion dollar joke with a punchline that we'll never get to and certainly won't laugh at.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Interesting how people cry civil rights violations at an airport checkpoint and nowhere else. Does one cry when a movie theater says you can't bring in your own food and drinks? Does one cry when you can't bring a weapon through a courthouse? How about if you're too big to fit in a ride at an amusement park? What do you mean I can't drive as fast as I want?
Nope...yet civil rights are violated at an airport...which civil rights are those? Show me where those rights are located. Buying a ticket is a contract. I want to fly therefore I won't bring the things they say I can't bring.

Seriously people...either quit crying or quit flying. Exercise your civil rights on the train or the roads...

Jeez... you americans are so soft...

January 10, 2013 6:15 PM
.......................
You demonstrate a distinct lack of understanding of what a civil rights violation entails.

Only government entities can violate civil rights, not private business.

If the airlines and airports wish to be responsible business owners and take care of security, which they should, then screening can be anyway they want.

However, as long as government is involved in screening every word, clause, and paragraph of the United Stated Constitution is enforce.

That is where TSA is in violation of our civil rights.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How come you TSA types are bragging about the Red Velvet Cupcakes TSA screeners confiscated?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Interesting how people cry civil rights violations at an airport checkpoint and nowhere else."

**********************************

Most reasonable and rationale people have the expectation they are not going to be virtually stripped searched or inappropriately touched when they visit public venues. The same can't be said for US airports. If anyone touched a stranger like the TSA has license to do at an airport checkpoints, they would be arrested. Forget civil rights - the real issue regarding the TSA sordid practices has to do with basic human dignity. Clearly the TSA and its supporters like you have forgotten what human dignity means.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Remember flying is a priviledge, NOT a right. All of the spoiled, cry babies who do not like to be inconvenienced for 5 minutes, for safety sake, take Greyhound. I want to be safe and so does my entire family. TSA has kept us safe since 9-11 and that is the bottom line. It amazes me that so many Americans have forgotten the tragedy of 9-11 and the incompetence of the private screening force. To all that complain about TSA wake up and grow up!!!

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