NewsRegionAnne Arundel County


TSA lost-and-found virtual treasure chest at BWI

Posted at 5:35 PM, Sep 22, 2014
and last updated 2017-02-16 14:53:14-05

Editor's note: This story previously ran in September 2014.


Even if you fly every so often, you are well aware of the security line and the conveyor of gray bins that stands between you and your departure.

You are almost always in a rush to either make a flight or get you shoes back on that most times you grab and go, and sometimes, just go.

"In this day and age people are trying to take as many things on the plane as possible often times because they don't want to incur the fee of a checked bag and so people often times have multiple bins and maybe they forget about that last bin," said Transportation Security Administration Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.

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Set off to the side on the baggage claim level of Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, is the TSA lost and found.

It is a small office with a big job, holding what you forgot in that last bin.

Customer service manager Mike Duckett said they get between 20 and 25 calls a day from people looking for items they left behind.

About 200 pounds of personal belongings are left behind at TSA checkpoints each month at BWI and it is not just the items you may think like power cords and sunglasses.

"Boxes of laptops that were left behind, ID’s driver’s licenses,” Duckett listed, “All this is credit cards," he said holding up a box of envelopes.          

Each of them logged and tagged in bins that mark days of the month.

More than 300 laptops have been left behind so far this year and countless cell phones and jump drives.

If not claimed, electronics are wiped and sent to a TSA warehouse, everything else is sent to Virginia to be sold in a state surplus sale.      

If there are clues on the personal belongings, TSA agents will track you down.

Whether it is a laptop that is not password protected, a wallet with $1,100 , prescription medication or in a recent case, even the initials inside a college bowl ring.

"We called the college and we found out the player by the number on the ring and he was a wide receiver, we called the college, they contacted him and he got it back," Duckett said.

The shelf life is 30 days, if TSA can't find you or you them, it's off to a surplus sale.

“Common things include some of the obvious things like belts and glasses, sunglasses, prescription glasses, but also some things that might be not as obvious like your driver’s license,” Farbestein said, “The worst thing I've heard about is a shrunken head at JFK. Seriously, you can't make that up."           

While electronics are housed at a TSA ware house and most of the other unclaimed belongings are sold off in a surplus sale, clothes are different. Every article of clothing that goes unclaimed is donated to homeless veterans.

TSA has some simple tips to avoid leaving things behind at security check points including taping a business card to your laptop or making sure you put all your loose belongings like keys and cards into your carry on to be scanned therefore eliminating that ‘extra’ bin.