Transportation Security Administration officers spotted a suspicious device in a carry-on bag at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on November 8, as the baggage was being screened at the security checkpoint.
The carry-on bag contained two torch-style lighters along with a homemade container made out of nine-inch long PVC pipe and end caps, which resembled a pipe bomb. However, when an end cap was removed, a partially smoked cigar was discovered inside.
The traveler, a resident of Hopewell Junction, New York, in Dutchess County, told officials that he had crafted the item to serve as a homemade humidor for his cigars.
TSA officials told the man that the item could too easily be perceived by the flight crew and other passengers as a pipe bomb and that he could not carry it onto the plane. The man surrendered the item to TSA for disposal along with the torch-style lighters.
“Our TSA officers are vigilant about looking for explosive devices, and this certainly gave the impression that it could be a pipe bomb that someone was attempting to carry onto an aircraft,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for LaGuardia Airport. “Fortunately it turned out not to be an explosive device, but had he pulled it out during his flight, it could have caused a panic. Replica weapons are not permitted on aircraft and this easily could have passed for an improvised explosive device. It was a good catch on the part of the officers who were staffing the checkpoint.”