RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - For the first time ever, the TSA has agreed to show NBC12 what their agents have kept from getting on the planes at Richmond International Airport. Twice in the last three months, Transportation Security Administration agents caught hand guns. A 38-revolver was loaded with five rounds. A Ruger pistol had two ammunition clips with it. Both passengers said it was an accident, but how often are dangerous items actually caught?
On any given day, hundreds of passengers and dozens of planes hits the skies over Richmond. So, what's not making it on those trips? 40 knives of all shapes and sizes, two stun guns, replica guns, ammunition, brass knuckles even nun chucks and a throwing star.
"Everything that you see on this table from the munitions to the switchblades to the throwing star were all detected," said TSA spokesperson Kawika Riley.
We asked the TSA to show us their catches in Richmond. The agency would not give us an exact time frame, only saying what you see here was detected at RIC "in recent months."
"Some of them are air guns. Some of them are BB guns," said Riley, and some of the items are not replicas and could really hurt a person. "Here we have some actual stun guns. This is something that we don't want of course to get on the other side of the checkpoint."
On an average day- TSA agents detect about four guns at airports across the country. They collected more than 1200 last year.
There was the "uh-oh" moment captured by surveillance cameras at RIC in November when agents found a pistol in a carry-on. Most of the time- it's an accident, but the agency says every catch will prepare them for when it really matters.
"When we made the decision after the September 11th attacks to put the planes back up in the air, we accepted a certain level of risk. But, we do have systems in place. We do have vigilant officers who are trying to reduce that risk and as you can see they're doing a pretty good job right here at Richmond," added Riley.
And if you've ever wondered why you have to give up that water bottle before you go through security?
"This looks like just your regular water bottle. Right? Seems harmless right? But, it's hollowed out. This could be used to hide different types of things, wether it's a poison or an explosive," said Riley.
It's not just weapons or prohibited items they are finding here.
Airline passengers nationwide left behind $400,000 in quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes as they scrambled for their flights. That money goes back into the TSA's budget.
If you have a gun or knife taken at a checkpoint you can not get it back. It's kept as evidence and turned over to local police.
Water and products in containers larger than 3 ounces are thrown away. Other items are turned over to the state and often sold as surplus in auctions.
Link to TSA's list of prohibited items: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm