Here's What People Tried to Sneak onto Airplanes in 2014

Nearly 2 million people pass through airport security every day in the United States, and some of them have packed things in their bags that they definitely shouldn't have. It's the job of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to find those things, and if their annual year in review post is any indication, agents were very busy in 2014.

Last year, agents found 2212 guns in checked bags, a 22 percent increase from 2013. Disturbingly, 83 percent of the guns discovered were loaded. The record for most firearms found in carry-on bags was June 4, when 18 guns were found at airports across the country.

But it wasn't just guns that the TSA discovered: They also found things like a homemade avalanche charge, 140 novelty or inert hand grenades, an inert training warhead, and a WWII era blasting machine. And then there were the knives, which TSA agents found hidden in a highlighter and a neck pillow at Philadelphia International Airport; in a laptop's hard drive caddy at Dayton International Airport; and in a potato chip bag at Texas's Amarillo airport. And good thing no one bit into this enchilada that someone tried to take through security at California's Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport—there was an 8.5-inch knife inside!

Someone even tried to hide razor blades in a Scooby Doo greeting card at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

And, finally, a note to drug smugglers: Don't try to conceal your drugs inside a package of raw meat in your checked bag (San Jose International Airport) or in a hollowed out textbook (Philadelphia International Airport). The TSA will find them.

For more on what the TSA found in luggage in 2014, read the whole blog post—complete with crazy photos—here.

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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