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Non-TSA Locks Were Cut Off My Checked Baggage [AMS-PDX-SEA]

Non-TSA Locks Were Cut Off My Checked Baggage [AMS-PDX-SEA]

Old Jul 18, 18, 7:23 pm
  #1  
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Non-TSA Locks Were Cut Off My Checked Baggage [AMS-PDX-SEA]

So is this a common occurrence? I've switched to normal locks (not TSA), ever since I realized that TSA locks can be opened with 3D printed master keys.

On my flight back from AMS to SEA to PDX a few weeks ago, I found that my lock on my checked in luggage was missing. Now normally, when I had TSA locks if they inspected my stuff, they would leave a note in the checked in luggage. So I'm suspecting that this might not be TSA (gasp) and it could be on the AMS side. Has this happened to anyone? Shouldn't they leave a note? What happened if they placed some crazy .... like some radioactive material, then *I* get arrested stateside for stuff they put in my bag?!

I'm also upset they cut my locks, cause I bought a different lock that had a very small piece of exposed metal, which would make it harder to cut the lock... I guess they still managed to cut that in the end!!!!
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Old Jul 18, 18, 7:34 pm
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TSA (or the foreign equivalent) is not required to leave a love note. The fact that you are using locks that they can not open means they are going to cut them off. Consider yourself lucky many years before all the TSA approved locks TSA tried and failed to cut a lock off my bag. So they cut the zipper pulls in such a way that I had replace the zipper. TSA denied my claim because they said they have the right to inspect my bag regardless of the fact that they did not have the proper tools and would break int o my bag if necessary.

That said, when did you notice the locks missing?? In SEA or PDX? If SEA then they were removed in AMS, if in PDX then they were removed in SEA.

Finally as question, you locked your bags, what did you expect TSA to do? Page you and have you come open the locks for them???
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Old Jul 18, 18, 8:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Rommie2k6 View Post
I've switched to normal locks (not TSA), ever since I realized that TSA locks can be opened with 3D printed master keys
... or any number of things I can buy for $10 or less at any hardware store. You didn't think this thru very well, huh? (And somewhere there's a joke involving the words "cut off" and "spite" practically writing itself here)
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Old Jul 18, 18, 9:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Rommie2k6 View Post
What happened if they placed some crazy .... like some radioactive material, then *I* get arrested stateside for stuff they put in my bag?!
Statistically speaking, if TSA did that then they would fail to later detect it at least 90% of the time, so you're actually pretty safe on that score.

There's a reason so many of us use nylon cable ties rather than locks. They're cheap, effective, and cheap. And also cheap.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 6:28 am
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I only realized it after I got home... so I can't be sure who cut the locks.

But this is disturbing. If security can cut my locks and not leave a note that means contraband can be placed in my luggage and I'm on the hook. Is nobody bothered by this at all?
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Old Jul 19, 18, 6:43 am
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1. OP departed AMS, so this has nothing to do with TSA.
2. OP would have reclaimed his bags at SEA for CBP processing, before dropping them for the onward segment to PDX. Presumably, if he goes to the trouble of locking his bags, he would have seen that there were no locks. This eliminates the possibility that TSA at SEA cut off the locks.

Bottom line here is that the locks were cut off by the air carrier, a security contractor or AMS security. Whatever notes it is that TSA sometimes leave and its practices, have nothing to do with OP's complaint.

Practically speaking, locking a suitcase is futile. It does not require a key to open a lock. All it takes is a lock cutter and 10 seconds. By locking a bag, all you do is signal to thieves that your bag contains items worth stealing (which it should not). Best to not lock your bag because anybody who wants to open the bag will open it, whether they have a legal or illegal purpose.

As to having someone stuff contraband into your case, that too can be done by anyone with a $3 lock cutter who wants to do harm to you. But, a better question is why anyone would do this to a random stranger.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 7:54 am
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Originally Posted by Rommie2k6 View Post
I only realized it after I got home... so I can't be sure who cut the locks.

But this is disturbing. If security can cut my locks and not leave a note that means contraband can be placed in my luggage and I'm on the hook. Is nobody bothered by this at all?
Not only can any suitcase lock be opened by a $3 bolt cutter as noted by the above posted, but for soft-sided luggage, most zippers can be opened with a ballpoint pen or similar. Even a hard-sided bag can be forced open if someone really wanted inside. The only reason to lock a suitcase is to guard against accidental opening if caught on a piece of equipment, etc.

You can't be serious about someone putting radioactive material or other contraband in your bag? Smugglers aren't going to place valuable items in a random stranger's bag - they have mules hired to do that!
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Old Jul 19, 18, 9:33 am
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Originally Posted by JamesBigglesworth View Post
Statistically speaking, if TSA did that then they would fail to later detect it at least 90% of the time, so you're actually pretty safe on that score.

There's a reason so many of us use nylon cable ties rather than locks. They're cheap, effective, and cheap. And also cheap.
When you say nylon cable ties would that be the same item as a zip tie? Are they cheap?
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Old Jul 19, 18, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
When you say nylon cable ties would that be the same item as a zip tie? Are they cheap?
Amazon sells them in 500 bunches for $11.99. If one chooses to use two per trip, that is $0.04 in each direction.

Better yet, don't buy bags which can pop open.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 9:42 am
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I use twist ties because I always remember something just after I have twisted them and the cost of cable/zip ties would mount up to many cents. I figure that anything that keeps the zip closed but can be easily opened signals that there is nothing of value in the case and allows the thieves to concentrate on fancy cases with fancy locks.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 10:05 am
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For an inexpensive heavy duty twist tie use some 4" pieces of 12 or 14 gauge copper electrical wire.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 11:03 am
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I too use cable ties. It's an easy way to see at a glance if my bag has been opened (the ability to open a bag by poking the zipper with a pencil notwithstanding). I've also opted for shrink wrap on many ex-Africa flights.

If an airport insider wanted to transport illegal material point-to-point, they have better options than checked bags, such as general cargo or even hiding it inside the plane itself. But assuming they did put illegal material in your bag, it's pretty likely they'll have someone at the other end retrieve said material before it even gets to the baggage belt, so you'd never know it happened.

If you are worried about it, ensure there's no address attached to your bag, so they don't know where to go to 'retrieve' said items if the bag makes it to you first.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 6:08 pm
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Originally Posted by 84fiero View Post
You can't be serious about someone putting radioactive material or other contraband in your bag? Smugglers aren't going to place valuable items in a random stranger's bag - they have mules hired to do that!
The radioactive material is in jest, but people putting contraband in bags is not. This is no joke. There are many countries with questionable human right records that have crazy out of proportion sentences for contraband. Like having some weed in your bag (even if you did not put it there), you can get jailed or worse executed. So this is no joking matter.

Using bolt cutters, and yes the pen trick (I've seen the videos) does make it seem that locking luggage to be a futile act. I do admit leaving it without a lock does make some sense...

Last edited by TWA884; Jul 19, 18 at 6:22 pm Reason: Merge consecutive posts by the same member; please use the multi-quote function
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Old Jul 19, 18, 6:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Rommie2k6 View Post
Like having some weed in your bag (even if you did not put it there), you can get jailed or worse executed. So this is no joking matter.
Thankfully the Pablo Escobars of the world are stopped by that burly non-TSA lock you've placed on your suitcase, turning it into an impenetrable fortress!
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Old Jul 19, 18, 6:29 pm
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Folks,

When posting in this thread, please keep in mind that per the forum's sticky thread the Practical Travel Safety and Security Issues forum is informational.

Please limit your responses here to facts, past experiences and data points. Save your opinion and commentary of the efectiveness of the TSA for the Checkpoints and Borders Policy Debate forum.

Thank you for understanding,

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