Having your personal items confiscated while travelling by the Transportation Security Administration is exasperating, but one silver lining is that they are often sold in online auctions on government-operated websites in the US. This means that there is a small chance that you could buy your own item back, or else you could profit from the misfortune of others by finding and purchasing a bargain of your own.

Travel News - Real ID
Items confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration can be bought in online auctions in some states. Image: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Many of the “voluntarily surrendered items,” or items taken from checked baggage by airport security are given to the state government. Food, drink and alcohol are thrown away, but items that are prohibited, including household goods and sharp or dangerous objects are surrendered or confiscated. They are stored by the TSA and some state governments sell them off in online auctions to generate revenue. If you check out these auctions, you might find something similar to the item that was confiscated from you, or maybe, if the stars align, you could spot your own item.

Travel News - DC Transportation
The Transportation Security Administration confiscates forbidden goods. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

How it works is that you place a bid online on the item during the allotted time, and if you win, the item is shipped to you. How the auctions operate differs from state to state, and some states even host live auctions and sales. The good news is that lost property and unused government property that is no longer wanted can be found for sale here too, so you just might score a few great bargains for yourself.

Travel News - security
Confiscated good are often sold in online auctions on government-operated websites in the US.

To see what is available to purchase, check out the state surplus auctions run by each state, details of which are listed on the individual state's official website. For example, Georgia's auction details can be seen here, West Virginia's is available here, Oklahoma is online here, and Maine is available here. You can also check out the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property here.

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