Pittsburgh International Airport auction has highest turnout ever
Jet setters departing from Pittsburgh International Airport left thousands of personal items behind last year.
And eager auction goers were on hand Saturday to bid on lost, unclaimed and abandoned items left in the airport’s lost-and-found at the annual public auction held by the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
Items up for auction included 15 vehicles abandoned in airport parking lots, 500 electronics, tablets, 1,000 pieces of jewelry, watches, cellphones, laptops and more. The auction was conducted by Joe R. Pyle Complete Auction and Realty Service and held at the Heavy Equipment Building on Cargo Road at the airport. This was the ninth year for the auction.
“This is our highest turnout we’ve had,” airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said, estimating attendance at more than 1,000.
First-time bidder Carol Coliane of Upper St. Clair said one item motivated her to attend Saturday.
“I wanted to bid on the SCUBA gear, but when I arrived, I found out it had actually been claimed by its owner today,” Coliane said. “This event seemed interesting, and I was curious.”
Coliane said she bid on a Mont Blanc pen instead, but it sold for “too much.”
She said she was surprised to see so many abandoned vehicles up for grabs as she peeked inside a 2014 Dodge Ram.
“I wonder if someone was arrested or something. Why would they be abandoned?” Coliane asked. “The older cars I could see going unclaimed, they are expendable, but the nicer ones, that’s stunning that someone would leave it.”
While authority officials can’t explain the circumstances behind abandoned SUVs, trucks and cars, reasons for vehicles being left behind include travelers not returning due to death or otherwise, such as a college student that returns home out-of-state and no one ever bothers to return to retrieve their vehicle.
Vehicles left for more than 45 days in airport lots are towed to storage and the airport authority, county police and PennDOT attempt to contact owners before being put up for auction.
Auction buzz surrounded one newer SUV, a 2015 GMC Sierra Denali with a little more than 36,000 miles.
“The online bidding on the Denali is already at $30,000,” said Kerlik before the scheduled vehicle auction began.
A 1993 Ford Tempo with more than 107,000 miles was the oldest vehicle on the auction block.
Online bidders competed with the throngs of bidders gathered around television monitors displaying current items available.
“People seem to have bidding fever. They’re crazy and paying too much,” said first-time auction attendee Kevin Massimino of Canonsburg. “If my items go for more than $50, I’m out.”
Sales from last year’s auction totaled $180,000.
Proceeds from the auction go to the non-profit ACAA Charitable Foundation, which hosts annual fundraising events that include airport 5K races, golf outings, grants and other community events.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.