What happens to cars abandoned at Pittsburgh airport? Sold at auction | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

What happens to cars abandoned at Pittsburgh airport? Sold at auction

Tom Davidson
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Abandoned vehicles sit on display inside the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Heavy Equipment Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, awaiting the annual auction, which will take place on Saturday at the airport. Other items up for auction are office furniture and equipment, small electronics like cell phones and laptops, jewelry, clothing and books.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Matt Neistein, communications manager for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, looks through boxes of items to be placed up for auction inside the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Heavy Equipment Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. The auction, which will take place on Saturday at the airport, will feature abandoned vehicles, office furniture and equipment, small electronics like cell phones and laptops, jewelry, clothing and books.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Office equipment sits on table inside the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Heavy Equipment Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, awaiting the annual auction, which will take place on Saturday at the airport. Other items up for auction are abandoned vehicles, office furniture, small electronics like cell phones and laptops, jewelry, clothing and books.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Matt Neistein, communications manager for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, pulls a laptop from a box to show members of the media some of the items to be placed up for auction inside the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Heavy Equipment Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. The auction, which will take place on Saturday at the airport, will feature abandoned vehicles, office furniture and equipment, small electronics, jewelry, clothing and books.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Lawnmowers sit on display inside the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Heavy Equipment Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, awaiting the annual auction, which will take place on Saturday at the airport. Other items up for auction are abandoned vehicles, office furniture and equipment, small electronics like cell phones and laptops, jewelry, clothing and books.

A 2015 GMC Sierra Denali pickup was parked and left in a lot at Pittsburgh International Airport more than two years ago.

Airport officials don’t know why the truck, which could be worth more than $30,000, was left behind.

But it could be yours this weekend.

It’s among the 15 abandoned cars, trucks and SUVs that will be sold to the highest bidder Saturday at the Allegheny County Airport Authority’s annual auction.

They’re sold as is and may or may not be in running condition. Unless they’re sold to a dealer with plates, they need to be towed from the airport’s property.

The vehicles range from a 1993 Ford Tempo with more than 100,000 miles to the Denali. The Denali was to be auctioned last year, but the owner said he’d pick it up. He didn’t, so it’s up for auction again, airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said.

The authority doesn’t know the stories behind why most of the vehicles were orphaned in the airport’s parking lot, Kerlik said.

Sometimes, a person leaves on a flight and simply never returns because they’ve died or otherwise, Kerlik said. In other cases, the car is owned by the family of a student at a college in the area. The student flies home, doesn’t return to school and they decide it isn’t worth making the trip or arrangements to claim the vehicle, Kerlik said.

After 45 days, a vehicle is reported to Allegheny County police. Police run a check to find the owner, who is notified. After that, PennDOT becomes involved and reaches out to the title holder.

Once those attempts are made, the vehicle is put into storage and sold at the auction, Kerlik said.

Sales prices range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $15,000, Kerlik said.

Other items the authority will sell include its own inventory of unused equipment. Everything from computers and office equipment to a 17-year-old Oshkosh fire truck will be up for sale.

The auction also will include a hodgepodge of left-behind, lost or otherwise unclaimed items that turned up over the course of the past year at the airport. Innumerable cellphones, tablets and other electronic devices are left behind each year.

“A lot of time, people will be charging them at the gate and forget about them,” Kerlik said.

They leave for a flight and don’t bother to check with the airport. The airport keeps items in a lost-and-found for 30 days before storing them for the auction.

In addition to these big-ticket items, the auction includes a grab bag of other interesting finds, which this year includes a 5-pound, 2,500-page English-Vietnamese dictionary and SCUBA gear, according to the airport authority.

Proceeds of the items owned by the authority go into its general fund. The items left behind by travelers help the authority’s charitable foundation, which supports the military lounge, the Art in the Airport program, aviation scholarships and other endeavors, according to the authority.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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