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Seized items go up for bid

Tom Fontaine
| Tuesday, April 3, 2012

If the Transportation Security Administration seized your favorite pocketknife at a Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint, you could look for it -- and try to get it back -- in an online auction.

Knives, sunglasses, belts and other items went on sale Monday.

Pennsylvania's Department of General Services is using the auction site www.govdeals.com to sell items seized or left behind at Pittsburgh and other airports in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Previously, such items were available only at a Harrisburg warehouse.

"Online sales of TSA surplus property present a great opportunity for the public to get items they want for a good price, while generating revenue for Pennsylvania," said General Services Secretary Sheri Phillips.

TSA keeps weapons and other illegal items but turns over other items it seizes at checkpoints -- and unclaimed lost items -- to state agencies that sell federal surplus goods, including the Department of General Services. Since 2004, the state agency has made $700,000 selling such items.

To bid at the website, type "PA State Surplus" into the search box on its home page. That takes visitors to General Services' active auctions.

Yesterday afternoon, 10 auctions were in progress -- all but one for items being sold in bulk. For example, website visitors placed three bids on a 12-pound collection of Wenger pocket knives, driving up the initial bid price of $50 to $80.

"We're hoping that will drive up the revenue we bring in," General Services spokesman Troy Thompson said about the bidding.

He said the department won't incur additional costs. Officials will tack an administrative fee onto winning bid prices to cover what the department owes the website for listing and auctioning its items, and buyers will pay shipping and handling. Bidding lasts a week.

Other items generating bids: a 7-pound collection of Buck pocketknives, a 50-item collection of Gerber pocketknives, a 10-item set of multipurpose tools, a 12-pair set of Ray-Ban sunglasses, two collections of belts, a wooden golf putter, a 15-pound collection of scissors and a 10-piece group of envelope openers.

Thompson said the department will start 10 auctions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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