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Traveler thought to have pipe bomb at airport until cigar was found inside, TSA says

Humidor with cigars (Friman/WikiCommons)

A traveler’s homemade cigar storage almost got him into trouble at a New York airport on Sunday.

Transportation Security Administration officers found a “suspicious device” that “resembled a pipe bomb” in the man’s carry-on bag when he was going through a security checkpoint at LaGuardia airport, according to a Monday news release from TSA.

Two “torch-style lighters” and a container made out of a PVC pipe and end caps were found in the bag, the TSA says.

But when officers opened the container, they found a “partially smoked” cigar inside.

The traveler told officers he uses the homemade container as a cigar humidor, the release says. Cigar humidors are containers designed to maintain a certain humidity level needed to preserve cigars.

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The man, a New York resident, had to leave his creation behind, though, as officers told him that other passengers and flight crew could also mistake it for a pipe bomb.

He surrendered the container and lighters to TSA for disposal, the release says.

Robert Duffy, TSA’s federal security director for LaGuardia Airport, said in the release that officers are “vigilant about looking for explosive devices.”

“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,” Duffy said, according to the release.

TSA doesn’t allow replica weapons on airplanes, and “this easily could have passed for an improvised explosive device,” the release says.

“It was a good catch on the part of the officers who were staffing the checkpoint,” Duffy said in the release.

The agency has a list online of items passengers can and cannot bring on airplanes whether in checked baggage or in carry-on bags. It can be found here.

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(c) 2020 The News & Observer

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