From jars of honey to diamond engagement rings, it all ends up in the Transportation Security Administration’s Lost and Found office. And for this week in particular, Super Bowl XLVII memorabilia items from fans at the game — like a seat cushion and ear muffs with the logo on it — are turning up in the office.
For items found at Newark airport, that means a small, gray, windowless room on Kean University’s campus in Union, where closets filled with forgotten coats and sunglasses to bins of smart phones and jewelry line the walls. The TSA has a property custodian that brings the leftover items to the office daily, where they are then sorted by date and security checkpoint, said Ofelia Ruiz, TSA customer support manager.
“It’s a shame some of the items — you can tell they have sentimental value,” Ruiz said.
The items most commonly left behind by passengers rushing through security are belts, keys and electronics, Ruiz said.
If an item that is valued over $500 or contains personal information and is not claimed after 30 days, it is sent to a TSA warehouse in Virginia. The other items are donated to a state surplus agency that collects them every 90 days.
“Every three months we probably [donate] about 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of items that are never claimed,” Ruiz said.