What happens to confiscated items from airport security

Thousands of Items are Confiscated Daily

It is estimated that 14,000 items are confiscated daily at airports in the United States alone. Consequently, many passengers look for ways to reclaim their valuable belongings. This article outlines what are the main channels for handling these items and shows how the reader can reclaim and purchase confiscated items which have been confiscated by airport security.

Confiscated Individual Items

There is a procedure in place in each individual airport for confiscated items. Once they are cleared by internal security, individual items such as knives and scissors are held for a fixed period of time. In most cases, travelers may apply to have an item returned after their journey, but they are required to pay the delivery fees. As passenger numbers increase in China, airports in Beijing and Shanghai have now begun to offer this service. Individual airport in the United States, Canada and Europe can also assist travelers to locate lost items.

In many cases, police auction off confiscated items. Where there is no claimant the item is placed in storage and upon expiry of the holding date the item will go for auction by the local police office. These auctions are typically free to attend and attendees often purchase items in order to sell them on online sites such as eBay. The proceeds from these auctions in the UK typically go to local police funds and in the US are designated for local charity. With regards the procedure for selling or disposal, much depends on both danger level and value of the confiscated item. For instance, a cheap pair of scissors may be disposed of on-site, whereas a high quality Swiss Army Knife may be held for a period of time and sent on for auction. Before embarking on a search it is always worth considering what the market value of the item is, as some low value items may be disposed of immediately.

Confiscated Bags

Of the estimated 13 million confiscated items annually the majority are individual items seized at the airport security gates. On occasion, however entire bags are confiscated by airport security. If the bag belongs to you then it may be possible to obtain information from the airport directly. The World Tracer System assists travelers in locating lost bags and can be used to find items across national borders. Bear in mind that for every thousand passengers that fly there are between 5 to 10 lost bags. Items are added to this system daily, so it is important to exercise patience in locating your specific item. In addition, the website Missingx.com offers details for lost luggage and can be accessed freely.  In order to clear the large volume of bags lost annually, many airports also hold periodic auctions to sell off suitcases and their contents. Confiscated items are often consigned to these auctions and are often placed alongside lost items.

Confiscated Items can be Located

Whilst there is a common system for dealing with confiscated items at most airports, the detailed procedure does differ according to the individual case. If it is not possible to find the items via the airport itself and the steps outlined above yield no results, you can try using the website airportlastandfound.com. This website contains a vast database of over one million items and can provide information about missing items at the click of a mouse. Although the internet is helping to reduce the cost of reclaiming confiscated items, there is nevertheless an investment of time and energy required from the individual. Before setting about getting back that ornamental dagger or lost paper knife it might be worth calculating whether it is cheaper to simply pick up a replacement on eBay.

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