MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's a story about a lost and found, but not just any lost and found. This one is filled with an item many in fact swear they could never do without. Each year, hundreds of thousands of laptop computers are left at airports.
Personal laptops, company laptops, all loaded with sensitive information, music, movies, games, a person's life just lost forever.
So what is it about laptops and airports that seem to have so many of us so forgetful? And what happens to all these lost laptops?
The answers are almost too hard to believe.
More than 12,000 computer laptops are left in airports every week, and most are never returned to their owner.
Angela Amoroso is a traveler from New Jersey. She wonders if those careless computer owners are unconscious.
Amoroso always travels with her laptop. She can't imagine one person being so careless with what she calls her, "electronic lifeline," much less thousands a day.
"How could that be?" questions Amorosa. "How could that be? I mean it's part of you. It's your communication. It's your life. I don't get that."
To give you a better idea of just how many laptops filled with often sensitive personal and business information are lost in airports each year, imagine a trail of laptops stacked end to end leading from Myrtle Beach International to a space shuttle in orbit above the earth. The estimated value of all those lost laptops should send the traveling public into orbit as well...$700 million.
Airport officials say there's not much that can be done for the passenger, outside of a generic announcement on the airport paging system.
Kirk Lovell is with Myrtle Beach International. "With so many tablets and electronics, they're password protected. There's no way for us to identify who it belongs to so it will sit here."
The Department of Homeland Security is so concerned about the loss of so many laptops at facilities it secures, that when I contacted their regional TSA representative, he caught a flight to Myrtle Beach to so we could talk in person.
Jon Allen says the TSA can only go so far when if comes to finding a computer's owner. "We're not going to turn that laptop on. We're not going to try and analyze the hardware or anything like that."
The bottom line cause for these laptop left behinds, according the federal government; too many of us lose focus. Simple as that.
"It's not just getting through the security process," says Allen. "It's 'I got to get to my gate, I have to connect somewhere else'. You look at all of that combined, times 1.7 million people a day and you're gonna find instances where items do get left behind."
Tom Dermody is having a hard time digesting that 12,000 a week number. But it was something else that peaked his curiosity. Tom thinks there's an obvious follow up question related to all those lost laptops.
"Where do they go? I don't know. Somebody's making money on them," suggests Dermody.
Yes they are. In the case of laptops, airports, airlines and the TSA hold the devices for at least 30 days. Then most, well, it's finders-keepers.
"They'll take the memory out," says Allen. "They take the hard drive out and then at that point they can auction it, they can surplus it. It becomes government property."
You and I already give enough to the federal government. It's time to show you how to fool-proof your trip through airport security.
Rule number one; never step foot inside an airport without some kind of contact information stuck on that computer.
Also, always place the laptop in the first plastic bin that goes through the scanner, and your shoes last. Seasoned travelers already know this trick because you're not going anywhere without your shoes and you're less likely to forget to pick up the first thing out of the x-ray.
Finally, don't expect the TSA to watch it for you.
Greg Szupillo has been a TSA agent on the X-ray line for 10-years. "Our job is to protect the traveling public and that's what we do."
Translation; your laptop is on it's own.
The worst news about lost laptops, is the numbers being left in airport like this are going up not down as more travelers bring them along. In fact that same Dell survey found 80 percent of those asked, say they already know someone who has lost a laptop at an airport, never to see it again. That means your chances of becoming the next are getting better and better every day.
Travel sites: When a confirmation isn't really a confirmation Skipping the fine print can cost you hundreds of dollars How to turn your hotel keys into luggage tags Are airlines charging families moreMore>>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:57 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:57:12 GMT
Richmond County Dispatch confirms there has been a stabbing at a Family Dollar. Deputies say it happened on the 2900 block of Dean's Bridge Road around 7:18 tonight. Information is limited at this tiMore >>
Richmond County Sheriff's Office deputies confirmed a stabbing at the Family Dollar on Dean's Bridge Rd. around 7:15 this evening.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:23 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:23:19 GMT
A fundraiser was held Saturday in honor of Wesley Spires. Local firefighters held a boot drive to honor their fellow volunteer firefighter who remains in critical condition after he was beaten by whatMore >>
A fundraiser was held Saturday in honor of Wesley Spires. Local firefighters held a boot drive to honor their fellow volunteer firefighter who remains in critical condition after he was beaten by what investigators said was a bat along the Augusta Riverwalk on May 3rd.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:05 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:05:19 GMT
Instead of spending the day at the computer, some Augustans spent their day learning about it. People gathered at the Imperial Theater for Web Afternoon. Mayor Deke Copenhaver gave remarks about Augusta'sMore >>
People gathered at the Imperial Theater for Web Afternoon. Mayor Deke Copenhaver gave remarks about Augusta's growth in the technology sector.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 6:01 PM EDT2013-05-18 22:01:25 GMT
One person has been transported to the hospital after being shot at Axis Barbershop in Beech Island. Aiken County dispatch said it happened around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There are at least two suspects,More >>
One person has been transported to the hospital after being shot at Axis Barbershop in Beech Island.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 5:55 PM EDT2013-05-18 21:55:44 GMT
Michael Robert Bradford, an employee of DynCorp International, has been killed in Afghanistan.Bradford was a Grovetown resident, according to information from a DynCorp spokesperson.The spokesperson toldMore >>
Michael Robert Bradford, an employee of DynCorp International, has been killed in Afghanistan.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:47 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:47:31 GMT
Georgia Power crews are working to fix power lines at William Few Parkway and Knob Hill that were struck from a car crash around 9 a.m. Saturday. Columbia County dispatch said two cars were involved withMore >>
Georgia Power crews are working to fix power lines at William Few Parkway and Knob Hill that were struck from a car crash around 9 a.m. Saturday.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:40 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:40:22 GMT
Richmond County Sheriff's Office released the following information in regards to Deputy Creech: Sheriff Roundtree and the family of Deputy Alton Daniel Creech would like to thank everyone within our community forMore >>
Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way Extension, Augusta, Georgia on Tuesday morning, May 21, 2013 at 11am. Deputy Creech will lie in state for one hour prior to the service.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 11:31 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:31:56 GMT
Hundreds of people sang through their grief Friday night as they mourned the death of Richmond County deputy Alton Creech. Two of Creech's close friends, who go by Solo and Ruff, say they've been unableMore >>
Hundreds of people sang through their grief Friday night as they mourned the death of Richmond County deputy Alton Creech.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:49:03 GMT
It's that time of year again for swimming and the YMCA is stressing the importance of water safety. The YMCA wrapped up a week long program that teaches children the basics of water safety. This is partMore >>
The YMCA wrapped up a week long program that teaches children the basics of water safety. This is part of an initiative that is driven by CDC statistics; nearly 3,600 people die each year from drowning.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:37 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:37:49 GMT
Richmond County Sheriff's Office donates bullet proof vests to City of Harlem Public Safety officers after the administration did not budget for new ones. "It wasn't something you wanted to talk aboutMore >>
Richmond County Sheriff's Office donates bullet proof vests to City of Harlem Public Safety officers after the administration did not budget for new ones.More >>