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News Link • Government

Loot confiscated by TSA turns into revenue for states

• By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
 From samurai swords to hatchets to snow globes, the Transportation Security Administration collects tons of unusual objects each year that passengers try to carry onto planes.

The objects are what the TSA deems weapons or other threats to flight security. They're surrendered at checkpoints by forgetful or harried passengers who would rather give them up than miss a flight or return to the check-in counter and pay extra to put them in a checked bag.

Among the most common: Swiss Army knives or similarly sharp multiuse pocket tools, though the gamut runs to swords or even fuzzy handcuffs that are more for bedroom use than law enforcement.

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And despite cynical suggestions from angry travelers that security officers keep the items for themselves, the TSA turns over the property to state agencies and commercial vendors, which cart it away to sell. Although public auctions yield a fraction of retail prices, dozens of states have found some revenue in the contraband.

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