Item missing from my TSA-inspected luggage

guncollector

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Well, I'm pissed today. After having flown from Miami to New York late last night, I went to unpack my things. Imagine my surprise when I opened my suitcase to unpack, and found that my Spyderco Delica was missing. Sure enough, I found one of those "TSA Inspected" notices in my suitcase.

Y'know, I'd like to say I'm surprised. When in actuality, I'm not. There's a reason I travel with a Spyderco Delica, as opposed to something "nicer" (note: this is not a knock against Spyderco, just a hard reality). It's just a real pisser, and crappy victimized feeling when your fears of sticky-fingered TSA agents comes true.

Oh, and yes I had three witnesses to me packing my bag and putting my Spyderco in a side-pocket of my suitcase. In fact, we all kind of joked what would've happened to me at the Security Checkpoint had I forgot to pack the Spyderco.

I travel over 50K miles a year, and have to say the majority of the time I've found the TSA very professional and courteous. But it only takes a very few bad apples to taint the bunch. And, I feel sure in this instance that it was just one "bad apple".

Bottom line: be reminded that never pack anything you check-in that you are not prepared to lose. Invaluable or sentimental items need to be shipped to your destination via your choice of courier.
 

daloosh

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Dude that sucks. Every time I fly, I get a horrible nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I arrive and open my suitcase to see if they've stolen anything, particularly knives and lights.

Same here, I'll never fly with anything really valuable. I'll live if my Super Knife or Delica or Griptilian is missing, pissed, but alive. It would kill me to lose my Sebenza or something with a lot of sentimental value.

It's a shame guncollector,
daloosh
 

Lunal_Tic

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I'm sorry to hear about your problems. The TSA and I aren't on the best terms. Their circular reporting is a waste. i.e. "Call this number for help." then at that number is a message that says "Go to website for help." then you write and you receive an automated email back that says "call this number" and it's the number you called in the first place.

I even read that a National Geographic photographer "lost" $50K of equipment. If the high profile guys aren't safe . . .

I agree with you 100%, never bring anything you aren't prepared to lose. I'm starting to think I should just travel with no luggage, arrive naked, and have I.D. and credit card numbers tattooed to the inside of my eyelids.

Sorry to digress. They really chap me. Again sorry you had this happen.
-LT
 

flownosaj

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sorry to hear about your problem.

The TSA is a waste. Last time I flew I vowed that next time I was going to mail all my luggage and just wear my bathrobe and flip-flops onto the plane. Luckily my robe has pockets for my ID
 

LEDmodMan

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Yep. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rant.gif That is a bunch of BS!!! They're supposed to be there to make us feel SAFER, not worried about being victimized.

SOME of the TSA security people are a bunch of crooks. Anytime I pack a knife, flashlight, or the like in a bag, I usually clip it inside of a pants pocket right in the middle of a folded stack of clothes. Unless you know it's there, it isn't very easy to find, especially in the TSA's "dig through the suitcase" technique as that usually will only find loose items. The best way to secure your items is to pack your bag, then rummage through it like a TSA agent would, and then you'll see for yourself what they would find. However, if they x-ray the bag and then open it, all bets are off.

Anytime I take items now that are worth more than the hassle it would take to replace them, I photograph the items going into the luggage for proof. Not sure if that would help me or not, but I suppose it's worth a try. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon3.gif

I will be flying next week, and I have a medium sized, flat tackle box of gear I'm taking for fishing. That will be the most expensive thing in the bag, and I will do everything I can to make sure it doesn't get stolen.

Luckily, I would think only smaller pocketable items would be at risk. However, that opinion might be being a little naive...


My most irritating TSA experience was a couple of years ago, when I was headed home after a three week trip to Buffalo. I had informed the check-in ticket agent that my bags were locked, and she told me that she could let the TSA people downstairs know they were coming. If there was any problem they would then call upstairs and get the key and combination from me to open the bag. I was asked to have a seat at a nearby bench, and after about 15 minutes if we hadn't heard anything, I was probably OK to be on my way.

After about 20 minutes the ticket agent was no longer busy, so I walked over and asked her if it would be OK to heard to security. She called downstairs to verify, but got no answer. She took me downstairs and then she went into the secured area where the bags are checked to find out what was happening for me.

After a couple of minutes, she came back out clearly irritated. She informed me that my bag had been forced open due to the lack of a master key for the built-in combination lock. She was very pissed off that the TSA agents hadn't followed their own procedures (turns out they could care less about their own procedures, as this wasn't the first time this had happened) and in the process, ruined the lock on my $100 Samsonite hardside suitcase. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead.gif I had to buy a strap to go around the bag to insure it wouldn't pop open in transit, as I didn't trust the keyed locks alone to keep the case secure.

I asked her if she could go and get the person who opened the suitcase, along with their boss. I was ready for a hanging! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/whoopin.gif She said she would be glad to, and returned quickly with both of them. I asked the guy how he had opened my suitcase, and he replied that he had pried it open with a very large screwdriver, which is why the lock was broken. I scolded him for this in front of his boss, and then asked him why he didn't try and reach the owner of the bag like they are supposed to do? He could have avoided breaking the lock, pissing off both the ticket agent and myself, and possibly risking his job. I then told his boss that he should be reprimanded and that I would be filing a letter of complaint with the TSA (which I did) about this incident. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/Christo_pull_hair.gif

I then asked what had set off the alarm that my bag needed to be checked? I was just dumbfounded by the response. It was a @#%$ing bottle of Buffalo wing sauce from the Anchor Bar (where Buffalo wings originated). It had set off their plastic explosives detector!!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif

Being Buffalo, wing sauce is a VERY common souvenir/gift item that people take home. It constantly sets off their alarms, and I was told that this had something to do with the density of it. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif Ya right! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif

I highly doubt anything was done about my complaint. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon8.gif Boy the TSA can really get under my skin! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/xyxgun.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rant.gif
 

d'mo

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Guncollector,

I travel a lot for a living and have run into this before. You should contact your AIRLINE and file a claim. You broke no laws or rules and have a right to have your propertly returned to you or replaced. The TSA likely won't do anything because they have nothing to lose. The airline, on the other hand, can't afford to lose a valuable customer like yourself.

Call the airline, explain what happend and be prepared to show a receipt for the knife, boarding passes and luggage claim tags. Lots of patience and nagging telephone calls don't hurt either.

For this reason, I carry a detailed list of all contents I carry in my checked and carry-on luggage in my wallet. For international travel, there's also a US issued custom's declaration you can fill out ahead of time and keep on file with your employer should there be any customs questions about the origins of your stuff. If you carry a PC, take digital photographs of your belongings and of the bags themselves should they become lost. These can be quickly shown to those wonderfly helpful baggage claim workers to give them a better idea of what they should be looking for....

I've also gotten into the habit of opening my checked luggage at the destination airport and checking the contents. Since my valuables are tools I need to complete my job I need to make sure I don't get to the work site empty handed. Also, since this can typically be done quickly, there's a better chance of actually catching the pilferer, particularly if their shift isn't over yet. - Go directly to the baggage claim desk, let them know what happened, show you your paperwork and photos and be prepared to wait it out. High rez. digital photos and personalized equipment is worth it's weight in gold when this happens.

Best of Luck,
dave
 

daloosh

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Good advice dave,

I take pictures of my valuables lying on a copy of that day's newspaper before I pack them into my suitcase, luckily haven't had to use them yet. And I open my suitcase as soon as I get it back. Once, a light had gone on in my bag, so I was able to turn it off before the whole thing lit on fire.

The problem, however, is that the theft has likely occurred at your departure airport, which could have been as long as 24 hours before you get your suitcase back and examine it. So, it can be harder to track down and pinpoint where the item was lifted.

An ounce of prevention...

daloosh
 

double_r76

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When I fly domestically, I usually try to bring a firearm. That gives me a reason to have a hard case that is inspected pre-flight with me present and then securely locked with all of my valuables inside, as well as the firearm. No one even blinks when my Starlight hard rifle case is loaded with clothes, electronics, and valuables right alongside my lonely Glock pistol. They can't open it after it has been checked and locked, and there is no chance of anything being pilfered. Most hotels offer safes or secure storage for my firearm while I am staying there to prevent room service and the cleaning crew from accessing my pistol.

I hate thieves.

-Randy
 
C

Cosmic Superchunk

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I've heard several stories like these which makes me upset as well. It seems that this is an all too common problem these days. I carry a pocketknife and a flashlight at all times when I'm away from home and I'd hate the thought of packing one of them (no matter how inexpensive) in a suitcase only to have it stolen or confiscated by some pillock. As far as going on holiday goes, I've come to the the decision that if I can't drive there, it ain't worth going.
 

BIGIRON

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r76 -- great idea. Obviously your destination might have some bearing on transporting a firearm. Just taking a $49.95 SNS would do the job.

I've stopped flying unless absolutely necessary because of the TSA hassle. Your idea might change that somewhat.
 

cobb

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Ive heard aweful stories of wheelchairs getting mangled at air ports. Its not like you can get one fixed or parts asap, or for that matter off a plane it if can not run or is physically ruined.

For that reason I traveled by Amtrak to Dallas by DC, Chicago and back. 5 days in all for the round trip. Wheelchair is ok, but the train was not that accessible and the folks were not that helpful. I only tipped one guy for pushing me down the dock to the train. THe rest made me pushed then asked if I could walk on the train and carry my own freaking wheelchair with me when they have a lift they are supposed to use and I had requested it when I made special reservations for the trip several months in advance, and had my wheelchair measured for it.
 

Xrunner

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[ QUOTE ]
BIGIRON said:
Just taking a $49.95 SNS would do the job.

[/ QUOTE ]

SNS?

Overall I think most TSA people are honest, but like guncollector said the few "bad apples" spoil the entire lot. Traveling with a firearm isn't a bad idea. If there are other goods in the case with the firearm, is the TSA allowed to force open the case to "inspect" them?

-Mike
 

double_r76

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[ QUOTE ]
Xrunner said:
If there are other goods in the case with the firearm, is the TSA allowed to force open the case to "inspect" them?

-Mike

[/ QUOTE ]

The hard case with the firearm and other items is inspected before it is checked, primarily to ensure that the firearms are unloaded, but also for materials that may be prohibited on commercial flights. The case is then locked and tagged that it was previously inspected, presumably to forego the need for any further inspection.

-Randy
 

Pellidon

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I won a settlement from TSA theft/vandalism from nine months ago. In the letter, they claim since "the airline has your bags longer than we do, they are probably more responsible" and now they claim to no longer process theft/vandalism complaints. Funny thing in almost 20 years of travel, I have only had the contents of my bags turn up missing or damaged since these theives have hit the scene.

For the most part now that the 5000+ have been fired for theft and the fact they might sunset in November to be replaced by an airline hired force that can be held responsible they have cleaned their act up a little. Congress is getting tired of the flood of complaints which is where I send a copy of each theft/vandalism loss.
 

Lunal_Tic

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Actually a TSA tagged bag is not a guarantee that they won't force it open at a later time. Had bags checked, tagged and relocked by the TSA in Dallas. The flight had a 45 min layover (the bags never were out of the system) in San Jose where they apparently didn't like the first TSA tags and tore open a hard side case and cut the safety tags off the other case and put them inside. Both pieces didn't make it to the destination until 3 days later.

Simply put, there are no guarantees/assurances that your items will make it to your destination be it carry-on or checked. They might as well make this the official motto and hang it up somewhere.

When the sheep lead we all end up in the cooking pot.

-LT
 

mattheww50

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Actually I hear the best way to discourage the TSA from giving your gabs more than cursory search is to pack a good supply of dirty female underwear, and sanitary supplies (napkins, panty liners, tampons etc)...
 

CiTY

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I guess the TSA people are just a bunch of flunkies from real Jobs. I've had my share of issues. I try to fly as little as possible nowadays(used to fly weekly). Nothing valuable in my check in bags... just clothing, personal items and some cables and adapters.
 
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