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Unclaimed Luggage: Find a Treasure

Location: New York City
Place: Times Square
Date: New Year’s Eve
Year: 2005 going on 2006

My sister and I arrive in the NYC to celebrate. I’ve always wanted to be in the midst of the confetti and noise as the ball drops in Times Square. Or at least that’s what I thought!! (Too cold! My sister says its the closest she ever got to death.) We get to Laguardia — wait, wait, wait. No luggage. We really only have 2.5 days in the city, hey they’ll call us when it gets in right? Night 1 – no luggage, Night 2 – no luggage, Morning 3 – no luggage, fly home in the same ole ‘ish.

So, what happend to our stuff?

Well, its probably up for sale at the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) in Scottsboro, Alabama.

99.9% of all unclaimed luggage is returned to its rightful owner. A portion of the remainder is bought site unseen and sold in the 40,000 sq ft. UBC, which sells approximately 1 million items annually.

So, what’s inside the bags? Below is a list of some of the most valuable AND unusual items found in the unclaimed luggage.

Full Suit of Armor – The suit turned out to be a replica of a 19th century original.

Collection of Ancient Egyptian Artifacts – An old Gucci suitcase was opened to reveal ancient items including a shrunken head, a mummified falcon, a burial mask, and scarabs, all dating back to 1500 B.C. The items were later sold by Christie’s auction house back in the ’80s.

$250,000 piece of Naval Equipment – A Naval guidance system for a F16 fighter jet was discovered among lost luggage, and surprisingly, was never claimed. The UBC turned the quarter-million dollar GPS back over to the Navy.

5.8-Carat Solitaire Diamond Ring – This platinum-set ring was found at the bottom of a sock in the corner of a plain-looking suitcase.

Barbie stuffed with Cash – After purchasing a Barbie doll for her little girl, a woman was startled to find $500 in cash, rolled and stuffed into the dolls body. Thankfully, her daughter pulled the head off promptly, revealing the bills.

Rattle Snake – Whether it slithered in while no one was looking, or it was purposefully packed, a live rattlesnake was found by workers unpacking unclaimed bags.

40.95-Carat Natural Emerald – The gem measured ¾ of an inch, and was found tucked away in a small plastic bag, stashed in the corner of a piece of luggage.

NASA Camera – The camera, which was specially designed for the Space Shuttle, was returned to the government agency.

Suitcase of Designer Dresses – In the late ’90s, UBC workers discovered an entire suitcase filled with Versace dresses, straight from the runway.

Expensive Art – What the store tagged and sold as a $60 painting turned out to be an original artwork, valued at $20,000.

All that’s interesting, but what I really want to know is has anyone at the Unclimed Baggage Center seen a green hoodie with Oscar on the front?? It was my fave.


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