The Lives of Pocket Knives

It came to my attention, that someone on ebay sells huge amounts of pocket knives which were confiscated at the airport. When I think airport, I think IAM, and when I think IAM I think of many possibilities (now, including selling airport seizures in bags of 80 to 100 on ebay). So I am wondering: Who is the seller? Is he/she an IAM representative?
In general, I think this is a great business model. We should support it, show international airport solidarity and buy a bag or two. The starting bid is only 99 cents…:-)Franzy 2006/05/18 21:49

I think it would be a great idea to give the knives back. I am for a give-back-knife station at IAM. I personally think it stinks that someone is making money of my confiscated property. Hajoe

OK, then we call it a Sharp Object Return Station.
Franzy 2006/05/20 12:37

cork screws, scissors, screw drivers

Of course there are not only knives. There is much more. And everything for sale. confiscated.jpg

Sharp Objects Mass

This is an article that appeared on February 28, 2003, in the San Francisco Chronicle

That pocketknife you surrendered to airport security screeners might now be tucked away in someone else's pocket – someone who bought it on EBay.

scissors5.gif Under the handle CaliforniaGold2000, the state is using the Internet auction house to convert scores of confiscated items to cash.:-)

Among the oddest items confiscated and sold were at least three circular saws, hatchets, curtain rods and a little girl's baton, said Robb Deignan, spokesman for the surplus property disposal program, a division of the California Department of General Services.

Also sold: 5,364 pocketknives, 350 pounds of scissors, 594 corkscrews and 309 leatherman tools.

The Transportation Security Administration, which employs most airport screeners, allows airports to decide how to get rid of the mountains of items collected, said spokesman Nico Melendez.
knife3d.gif They are too numerous to return to their owners, Deignan said.

Since November, when the program started, 2,400 pounds of objects have been delivered from the Sacramento airport, and 2,250 pounds from Oakland.

knife3d.gif In cash-strapped, tech-savvy California, someone in the state's surplus property program thought up the idea of selling the things on EBay, Deignan said.California may be the only state in the country that has employed EBay for the purpose.

“We're putting items that are reusable back in the hands of people,” Deignan said. “On EBay, it's egalitarian. It opens the bidding to the world.”

In Southern California, Los Angeles International, John Wayne and Ontario airports participate in the surplus program. Meanwhile, airport officials in San Jose and San Francisco say they will continue to dispose of the mostly metal items by hiring haulers to take them to recyclers.

knife5b.gif The state had been selling other surplus items, such as electronics taken in police raids, on EBay for several years, and already operated two public sales warehouses – in Sacramento and Fullerton, Deignan said.


The scissors, knives and tools taken by airport screeners are perfect for EBay because they are relatively valuable and easy to transport, he said.

As the effort to sell the confiscated airport items online has progressed, employees have become more knowledgeable about what EBay buyers want, and how best to sort the lots.

Most of the things for sale online are of the garden-variety pointy type: “10 collector knives, Gerber,” “200 money clips, lots of styles and brands” and “mountains of miscellaneous used hand tools.”
scissors2.gif Bidding starts at $9.99, with the most expensive auction so far bringing $835 for 350 pocketknives.

The proceeds are divided between the state and federal governments. The state uses its share to offset the cost of the program, Deignan said.

He said he has heard no complaints about the program – aside from the state employee who told him that the EBay descriptions should be more poetic.

But when some airline passengers who had unwittingly donated items to the cause were informed of the program, they weren't too pleased.

“As far as the concept is concerned, I think it's ridiculous,” said Bernard Wormgoor, who was flying out of Oakland with his wife when she was asked to relinquish a pair of nail scissors that her mother had given her some 40 years before.
scissors6.gif knife3.gifscissors7.gif knife4a.gif

“They don't own it. They took it away – that doesn't mean you relinquish ownership,” he said. “I don't want to use the word 'theft,' but it starts smelling like it.”

Nicola Place of Danville agreed.

Flying out of Oakland on a business trip, she lost a Swiss Army knife her dad + had given her more than 20 years ago. “It broke my heart,” she said. “It had been everywhere with me.”

Thinking about it ending up on EBay, she said, “It makes me sad. . . . It irks me that they can take it away and make money off us. It's bad enough they take it away.”

On the other side of the virtual auction block , however, are a number of satisfied customers.

knife5.gif knife.gif

In fact, CaliforniaGold2000 boasts an admirable EBay rating, with just one negative comment out of 310 sales in the past six months.

The lone complaint came from user Squishypig, who claimed the item purchased was not as described, horribly packaged and that a refund was difficult to obtain.

CaliforniaGold2000 replied, in part, “there's no pleasing everybody.”

Among the successful, satisfied bidders was Nevada City businessman Greg Cook, owner of Friar Tuck's Restaurant and Wine Bar, which burned down last March.
Cook is preparing to reopen the joint this knife3b.gifspring, and he was in the market for corkscrews.

knife6a.gif Never having bought an item off EBay in his life, he dipped his toe in the bidding in the last hours of an auction for 42 wood handle corkscrews – and got them, $36 for the lot.

“They're $20 ones. They're beautiful, I've been showing them to everyone,” Cook said. “We do a big wine business.
The wood handle ones are nicer because when you work all night, they're nicer on your hands.

“I'm real happy,” he said.

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