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Old 07-11-10, 08:45 PM   #1
Connell
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It's just an ordinary suitcase

as far as I can see.

It doesn't have any "Confederation of Drug Smugglers" membership stickers, or "Association of International Arms Dealers" luggage tags on it. But on returning from my last 3 trips, I've opened it to unpack, and found a slip of paper advising me that "To protect me and my fellow passengers", the TSA have opened my bag and physically searched it.

Once is annoying. Twice is a concern. After the third time, I'm starting to get paranoid. (And no, cramming everything into a carry-on isn't always an option when I travel on business.)

Of course they haven't found anything. Nor are they likely to. So, I fall into the "If you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear from the government searching your property" category. Even though it was done without my consent, or even my presence.

Or do I? I mean, what is the purpose of such a search? Suppose they 'do' announce that they found some contraband? I wasn't there when they searched my bag, so don't I have a simple case of denial? "It isn't mine, you must have planted it."

Suppose you came out of a restaurant to find a note on your car saying "To protect you and your fellow motorists, the police physically inspected your car and found a stash of blow in the wheel well. You're nicked." Wouldn't you have the option to deny it? How could you prove you didn't put it there?

Because if it's just a case of the TSA's word against mine, I have a nagging feeling it won't be me that would be believed. Let's face it, in the post 9/11 era of "You're guilty if the government says you're guilty" there are a lot of people currently in custody on flimsier evidence than this.

I'm not really asking for legal advice over the Internet, that would be silly. But...how does this work?
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Old 07-11-10, 09:01 PM   #2
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Is it a nice suitcase?

The TSA stole my light meter and a pocket knife out of the pelican case I use for my cameras.
They left me the same note.
I would have preferred that they had left my stuff instead of the note.

They say it will take 6 months for them to process my loss claim.
Evidently a lot of things go missing during TSA inspections.
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Old 07-11-10, 09:20 PM   #3
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It's quite nice, but nothing spectacular. I did have some pinch-able stuff in there but as far as I'm aware, it's all intact. FYI, after 5 days in the humidity of Singapore and another sightseeing in Tokyo, I'd say that any TSA Operative who's willing to sift through my dirty grundies is going over and above the call.

But that blows big hairy ones about your stuff. Good luck and all that.
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Old 07-11-10, 09:28 PM   #4
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I ran into the same thing with a duffel bag I checked once. The fun part was that they cut the bag open because I had locked the zippers together with a little luggage lock. They were kind, though, and duct taped the nice big slash they made back together. It seems to me that, in such a situation, one would have chosen to the just break the crappy little lock instead of cutting the bag open.
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Old 07-11-10, 10:56 PM   #5
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Evidently a lot of things go missing during TSA inspections.
Funny how that happens.
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Old 07-11-10, 11:11 PM   #6
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Your suitcase was probably vibrating. 9 times out of 10, its an electric razor. But every once in a while...
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Old 07-12-10, 03:42 AM   #7
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At our local airport - Binghamton, NY, they hand search every bag I believe. They did all of our ski gear when we went to Utah in Feb, and they did it all right on a counter where you could watch. I'm sure at big airports the don't search all bags, nor do they do it in front of you. Pretty much the norm to be searched. Carry on anything expensive if you can. Our ski gear didn't get stolen, but some of it got routed to Florida instead of Utah but that wasn't TSA fault. I did get a nice new jacket and snow pants - Thanks Delta.

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Old 07-12-10, 08:09 AM   #8
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Connell, my friend who has two homes and travels back and forth at least once a month tells me that EVERY TIME he gets his bags searched and sometimes will be pulled aside and searched himself after going through the metal detector. When I was surprised and asked him why the heck is he being targeted, he laughed and said to me "What do you expect, what's my last name?" Araque.

So now he leaves little notes to them.
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Old 07-12-10, 09:11 AM   #9
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I came home from a trip to find childrens clothing had somehow made it into my luggage..
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Old 07-12-10, 10:10 AM   #10
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My wife had a bunch of sand added to her bag. And they broke her lock even though it was one of those TSA-approved-they-have-the-key ones.

My checked baggage usually screams out for a search and one of those little cards, I've never lost or gained anything though.
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Old 07-12-10, 10:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Connell View Post
as far as I can see.

It doesn't have any "Confederation of Drug Smugglers" membership stickers, or "Association of International Arms Dealers" luggage tags on it. But on returning from my last 3 trips, I've opened it to unpack, and found a slip of paper advising me that "To protect me and my fellow passengers", the TSA have opened my bag and physically searched it.

Once is annoying. Twice is a concern. After the third time, I'm starting to get paranoid. (And no, cramming everything into a carry-on isn't always an option when I travel on business.)

Of course they haven't found anything. Nor are they likely to. So, I fall into the "If you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear from the government searching your property" category. Even though it was done without my consent, or even my presence.

Or do I? I mean, what is the purpose of such a search? Suppose they 'do' announce that they found some contraband? I wasn't there when they searched my bag, so don't I have a simple case of denial? "It isn't mine, you must have planted it."

Suppose you came out of a restaurant to find a note on your car saying "To protect you and your fellow motorists, the police physically inspected your car and found a stash of blow in the wheel well. You're nicked." Wouldn't you have the option to deny it? How could you prove you didn't put it there?

Because if it's just a case of the TSA's word against mine, I have a nagging feeling it won't be me that would be believed. Let's face it, in the post 9/11 era of "You're guilty if the government says you're guilty" there are a lot of people currently in custody on flimsier evidence than this.

I'm not really asking for legal advice over the Internet, that would be silly. But...how does this work?
That sentance alone proves you carry some type of drug and/or weapon in a well hidden compartment in your suit case. ;0)
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Old 07-12-10, 10:27 AM   #12
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Every time I've flown back from Detroit, over the past three years, I've found the paper - except for the time I was scrambling to make the flight.
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Old 07-12-10, 10:43 AM   #13
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My S&S coupler bike box gets searched everytime. I use a strap around the whole thing as backup to the two latches. I sometimes use a nylon zip tie in lieu of a lock. TSA cuts the ziptie and does a pretty good job putting things back in place. One time it was diverted to an Atlanta for TSA inspection and was delivered 2 days later safe and sound.
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Old 07-12-10, 11:54 AM   #14
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Buy a starter's pistol; it officially counts as a firearm for TSA purposes. Declare your firearm, and the TSA goons will security tag and lock the heck out of that bag after a quick inspection. It will not get opened again until you go to pick it up. The TSA doesn't seem to care about a reputation for screeners stealing cameras, computers, jewelry, etc., but they don't want to be the party responsible for the loss of a firearm on a flight.

(rules may have changed, but a few years back when I was a competitive shooter this was the easy way to make sure that your bags didn't get rummaged through by the luggage monkeys)
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Old 07-12-10, 02:21 PM   #15
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Packing hand tools seems to guarantee a search of the luggage also.
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Old 07-12-10, 02:33 PM   #16
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Buy a starter's pistol; it officially counts as a firearm for TSA purposes. Declare your firearm, and the TSA goons will security tag and lock the heck out of that bag after a quick inspection. It will not get opened again until you go to pick it up. The TSA doesn't seem to care about a reputation for screeners stealing cameras, computers, jewelry, etc., but they don't want to be the party responsible for the loss of a firearm on a flight.

(rules may have changed, but a few years back when I was a competitive shooter this was the easy way to make sure that your bags didn't get rummaged through by the luggage monkeys)
I saw this same advice on another forum I frequent.
The poster was a *cop*.
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Old 07-12-10, 02:38 PM   #17
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Packing hand tools seems to guarantee a search of the luggage also.
Try carrying on hand tools. I add 15 minutes to deal with this effing sharade twice a week.
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Old 07-12-10, 07:06 PM   #18
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We've had our bags searched numerous times, with no problems. Our bags are ordinary bags, and at least my bag has nothing in it but clothes, toothbrush, etc.

I don't put anything of value in my checked bags, I carry it on. I almost always fly with a laptop, DSLR, glasses, etc., all in my carry-on.
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Old 07-12-10, 07:32 PM   #19
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See...the idea of having something pinched from my bag wasn't all that high on my list of things to worry about. But it is now.

I was really more interested to know the legal situation should the TSA claim they'd found something in my bag shouldn't be there. How could I prove that I didn't put it there and from a legal point of view, should I have to?
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Old 07-12-10, 11:41 PM   #20
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Even though it was done without my consent, or even my presence.
You gave your consent by booking a flight that falls under TSA jurisdiction. At some point that was stated in fine print.

It sounds like they could save themselves the effort and you the annoyance, however, by writing a very brief description of what prompted them to search your bag, so you'd know better how to pack.

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See...the idea of having something pinched from my bag wasn't all that high on my list of things to worry about. But it is now.

I was really more interested to know the legal situation should the TSA claim they'd found something in my bag shouldn't be there. How could I prove that I didn't put it there and from a legal point of view, should I have to?
Getting stuff pinched is the bigger worry. TSA is a big organization that seems to attract a lot of semi-incompetent employees, mixed in with a few scumbags. Fortunately, I've never had a negative experience with a TSA employee, but there's no shortage of stories.

As for planting something, why would any of them bother creating more work for themselves? Most just want to get their work done and go home. Finding illegal substances to report means interrupting that work, falling behind, probably some paperwork, etc.

It would be a tough defense. If you travel with a spouse, etc, they're a potential witness to your packing. Character witnesses can attest to your upstanding nature to attempt to cast reasonable doubt that you're the sort of person to possess something like that. Background checks may turn up a questionable history for those who supposedly find the illicit material.
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