If you’ve been through security at San Francisco International Airport recently and are missing your sunglasses or laptop, it’s probably worth checking in with the Transportation Security Administration.
The TSA has collected about 20,000 items left behind by forgetful or frazzled passengers at SFO so far this year, including numerous laptops and sunglasses, but also more unusual things such as a wheelchair that someone presumably used to get to security.
Only 2,000 of those items have been reunited with their owners.
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said most likely go unclaimed because people don’t know when or where they lost them. The TSA is not responsible for items lost elsewhere at the airport.
“These laptops are sitting here, waiting for somebody,” Melendez, pointing to a stack of laptops on a table, said recently. “So come and get them.”
The items are tagged with a bar code and a description and kept at the airport for at least 30 days. Laptops are eventually scrubbed of their data and sold. Less expensive items are donated to a state agency.
Passports go to the local issuing embassy, while drivers’ licenses are returned to state motor vehicle departments. Credit cards are destroyed, though credit card companies are notified in advance.
Melendez said the unusual items are not confined to SFO. Someone left false teeth behind at Los Angeles International Airport.
“It’s one of those things you don’t have to remove, and wouldn’t you notice that your teeth weren’t in when you left the security checkpoint?” Melendez asked.