CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Suspicious item paused baggage screening at SLCIA earlier this month

Sep 29, 2023, 9:00 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 2:52 pm

This item, a fake skull, putty, nine-volt battery and a sensor, caused baggage screening operations...

This item, a fake skull, putty, nine-volt battery and a sensor, caused baggage screening operations at Salt Lake City International Airport to be delayed by two hours on Sept. 18. The passenger says it's a medical training device. However, TSA determined the device could not be transported on an airplane. Photo credit: TSA

SALT LAKE CITY — A suspicious item in checked luggage suspended checked baggage screening operations at Salt Lake City International Airport for nearly two hours earlier this month.

According to a press release from the Transportation Security Agency, a plastic skull, putty, a nine-volt battery and a sensor were discovered by TSA agents on Sept. 18 around 8 a.m.

An X-ray image of the objects appeared to show a skull with “unidentifiable components inside.” The release stated, “The item resembled an improvised explosive device.”

An explosive detection canine was used to determine the item was not an explosive. TSA agents along with Salt Lake City police officers were able to make contact with the passenger.

What was the suspicious item used for?

The passenger explained to authorities the item is a medical training device for neurosurgeons. Additionally, the passenger also said that it is used to instruct medical personnel on how to perform a lobotomy. 

The passenger was traveling to Cancun, Mexico for a trade show. 

The TSA, ultimately, determined the object could not be transported on an airplane. The TSA retained the item and returned it to the passenger upon returning back to Salt Lake City.

“This incident and subsequent response is an example of how TSA must take every potential security threat seriously while making sure that the transportation system is not put at risk,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah Matt Davis in a news release. 

Read more: Four teens caught attempting to steal rental cars at Salt Lake City Airport

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Suspicious item paused baggage screening at SLCIA earlier this month