TSA found a double-edged blade hidden in a gaming laptop

The Transportation Security Administration detained a man at Virginia’s Richmond International Airport late last week after discovering a double-edged blade hidden in his gaming laptop.

According to the TSA, the man, who hails from Williamsburg, Virginia, was going through security on Nov. 11 when the officer noticed a knife in the man’s carry-on luggage through an x-ray machine at the security checkpoint. However, when searching the bag and separating the contents, no knife was found. When each item was re-screened individually, the knife appeared in the laptop.

“After obtaining tools that could disassemble the laptop, a double-edged blade was found to be artfully hidden in the computer’s innards.” In images from the TSA, the blade appears to be stuck to the lower housing. The TSA claims the owner first claimed he knew nothing about a knife in his laptop, but confirmed it was his knife after opening the laptop.

We open a lot of laptops and our expert opinion is that those tools were probably a small Phillips screwdriver and maybe something to pry the lid off. The laptop appears to be a Gigabyte Aorus gaming notebook in the photos provided by the TSA. You can see that the battery comes from G-Style Ltd., a Taiwanese parts supplier affiliated with Gigabyte. The underside of the case is very similar to many of the Aorus models we’ve tested.

If I may put on my nerd glasses…

The laptop has expandable RAM (which is good because the sticks seem to be damaged), and the SSD, although under a thermal pad, is also replaceable. There is also access to the Wi-Fi card and battery. Unfortunately the fans are dirty and need to be cleaned.

“This was a fantastic job by our agents first identifying the threat and then working with the Capital Region Airport Commission Police Department to obtain the tools needed to disassemble the laptop to reveal the knife,” Robin “Chuck” Burke, according to TSA’s federal security director for Richmond International Airport. “The detection of artfully concealed weapons highlights the training and skill of our officers who are focused on their mission to ensure that prohibited items that can cause harm are not carried on flights.”

(Image credit: TSA)

Burke added that the man faces “firm federal civil punishment.” The TSA press release also pointed out that if the man has TSA PreCheck, he loses his privileges (as is the case for anyone who brings a gun into airport security).

According to the TSA’s Sanctions Guidance Enforcement Policy, sharp objects, including double-edged knives or daggers, throwing stars (including 3D-printed throwing stars), axes and hatchets, cleavers, fencing foils, machetes, gravity knives, and other sharp objects can result in a fine ranging from $390 up to $2,250.

While “ordinary crafty concealment,” such as a cane sword or penknife, can result in a $530 to $2,250 fine, “extraordinary crafty concealment,” including a book hollowed out to fit a dangerous object, can range from $ 5,320 to $10,700. The TSA has not confirmed the classification of this incident, but we imagine that knives hidden in laptops belong to the second series. Keep in mind, however, that these numbers come from a document that was updated more recently than the incident and may have been slightly modified.

Any further information about the traveller, including his identity, where he was traveling or his motive was not disclosed.

While it is essential for travelers to feel safe, incidents like this are rare. A recent report from The edge sstates that the TSA “has played almost no part in the biggest counter-terrorism stories of the last two decades”, and that some of the most high-profile attempts have been boarding planes outside the United States, at airports where the TSA does not provide security. That said, the TSA has an Instagram account that sometimes shows interesting finds.

So yeah, consider this a win for the TSA (and, I suppose, that poor chassis trying to hold it all together). But don’t take knives on planes, don’t hide them and certainly not in a laptop. Someone will find them, and you hold the line for the rest of us.

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