New York, NY – The Transportation Security Administration says it has stopped passengers carrying 123,189 prohibited items at the three local airports alone since January, including a baby alligator.
“August is our heaviest month,” said security officer Luther Duke, who oversees a New Jersey warehouse packed with hacksaws, knives, nun chucks, a sword, drills, baseball bats, tree branches, a shower rod, rodeo whips, fire extinguishers, and liquor — all abandoned by or confiscated from passengers boarding flights at Newark Airport.
The biggest excuse people use when they’re caught is “someone else packed their bags for them,” said Duke.
Travelers have at tempted to board planes armed with 10-point deer antlers, car parts, peace pipes, a kitchen sink, a grill, according to the TSA.
Some of the contraband lives and breathes, as animal lovers afflicted with separation anxiety try to sneak their snakes, lizards and turtles — even dogs — by the X-ray scanners.
A man en route to New York City from Puerto Rico strapped a baby alligator to the inside of his thigh. He was fined and his reptile seized.
About 450 pounds of abandoned goods are recovered each month at JFK, La Guardia and Newark airports. The tonnage at Newark this year has included 12,302 flammable objects; and 43 travelers were stopped for trying to carry explosives.
At JFK, 1,328 tools were intercepted, and at La Guardia, 9,365 knives and blades were discovered in clothing and in carry-on bags.
Since January, 122 passengers at all three airports were stopped for carrying ammunition and gunpowder as they tried to board planes; 338 passengers were armed with bats, clubs and bludgeons; and travelers carried 1,602 knives and blades longer than three inches.
Friday, Port Authority officials at La Guardia arrested Michael Williams, 40, who was catching a Delta flight to Atlanta while packing a fully loaded 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun in his carry-on bag. Williams told investigators he “simply forgot” the weapon was in his bag, according to security officials.
Property confiscated or abandoned at airports is eventually shipped to a warehouse in Pennsylvania and auctioned off on eBay.