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What Does The TSA Do With All The Confiscated Stuff?

11:58 AM, Sep 24, 2013   |    comments
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LITTLE ROCK, A.R. (KTHV)-- Every time you empty your purse or your pockets, there's a chance that something you think is OK to bring on board, TSA agents may have a problem with it. In fact, at the Bill & Hillary National Airport in Little Rock, they confiscate hundreds of pounds of items every year.

Between the shoes coming off and knowing which items are banned, it can be a challenge.

"The last thing they took from me was Hummus- which they claim it was liquid," said Jacqueline Thomas, a traveler who like many, have had their stuff snatched, wonders where it all goes.

Most food and drink is thrown out and so are chemicals like gel, lotion, or hairspray. As for weapons, TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said told THV 11 they're given to police.

"Typically you will be arrested," said Koshetz. "You will also face civil penalties from TSA for as much as $7,500." But the rest, basically anything worth something, is sold or donated.

"Some of the property has been bought by foreign countries," Koshetz said.

When items are confiscated, they end up in places known as surplus centers. Every year, the TSA takes 750,000 pieces of personal property, including some lost items.

THV 11's Ashley Blackstone visited the Arkansas Federal Surplus in North Little Rock. It's a division of the Department of Emergency Management, servicing seven airports across the country.

"I think the machete has probably been the weirdest thing that I have seen. To this day, I don't know why someone would try to take a machete on an airplane," said director Arthur Woods.

Employees at the center package it, and sell it. Boxes and bins full of tools, scissors, and hundreds of knives that usually end up on an online auction site similar to e-Bay called GSAauctions.gov. The site then splits the cash with the state agencies that are selling your items.

"Last year, we made about $5,000 off the donations and in years past, we've made up to $10,000," Woods said.

As for most lost items like sunglasses, jewelry, shoes, and clothing, it's all donated to Arkansas in need, with a focus on veterans.

"Anything that we can give to the homeless community, we just give it away," said Woods. "We try to maximize the good in everything."

Jacqueline Thomas admits, along with many other travelers, handing over your stuff isn't easy.

"The security is a pain, but it's one of those things we have to put up with these days," said Thomas.

If you're truly against giving the TSA your personal property, and you have the time, you have some options. You can walk back to the ticket counter and check it. Or, many airports, including the Bill & Hilary Clinton National Airport, they'll let you mail it to yourself.

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