Kentucky, Ala. Auction Off Items Confiscated at Florida Airports

MIAMI (AP)-- Travelers who lose pocketknives or scissors during security checks at two Florida airports could get them back - if they make the best offers to two other state governments.

Every few weeks, state employees from Kentucky and Alabama pick up thousands of knives, scissors, box cutters, baseball bats and other prohibited items that security agents intercept at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Miami international airports.

Kentucky's Division of Surplus Property sells the items, along with items confiscated from airports in Massachusetts and its own state, on the online auction site eBay.com. Officials said the sales net the state about $2,500 a month, or roughly $30,000 a year.

Alabama first tries to sell the items to nonprofit agencies before offering them to the public at live auctions, said Shane Bailey, the director of the state's surplus agency. The state earns about $6,000 a year from the sales.

Bailey said Alabama will soon also use eBay to sell the items.

The federal government encouraged state surplus agencies to help dispose of the piles of sharp objects that began accumulating with increased airport security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said Jill Midkiff, a spokeswoman for Kentucky's surplus division.

A national engineering firm disposes of the weapons, ammunition, lighters and other hazardous items confiscated during airport screening.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, the items were all ''abandoned.''

''We give people every opportunity to stow things property _ either put them in their checked baggage or give them to a companion who isn't traveling,'' said Lauren Stover, the TSA's eastern field director.

''We only take something when the traveler decides it is worth abandoning,'' she said.

Florida officials said the state declined to participate in the airport-surplus program.

''There would be a lot of itemizing and auditing, and our surplus division simply doesn't have the funding or staffing to do it,'' said Jennifer Fennell, a spokeswoman for Florida's Department of Management Services. ''We have five positions in that division, and their time is 100 percent taken.''

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