Did You Know TSA Allows Searches on Valet Parked Cars at the Airport?

Travelers might be accustomed to seeing a little slip or sticker on their checked baggage that states it has been inspected by the TSA, but a New York woman was surprised to find a similar notice inside her vehicle that she had valet parked at the airport.

Laurie Iacuzza returning from a trip and picking up her car at the Greater Rochester International Airport found a yellow piece of paper inside her car that read:

Thank you for your patronage

Your vehicle has been inspected under TSA regulations

tsa car inspection
(Image: WHEC video screenshot)

Her reaction?

“I was furious,” Iacuzza told WHEC-TV.

Iacuzza had her car parked by valet attendants but was never told it would be searched when she picked it up or dropped it off.

A valet attendant, not a TSA agent, inspected the car per the TSA’s regulations, as the note stated.

What WHEC sought out from there was the overall scope of car searches taking place.

What the local news outlet found out from TSA-appointed John McCaffrey, the airport’s federal security director, is that the searches only occur with valet parked cars. Speaking with Valet Parking Attendant Frank Dettorre, WHEC learned attendants have to search these cars. The staff has only been searching valet parked cars for about a month, according to the report.

McCaffrey said this is because valet parked cars could spend up to an hour in front of the airport entrance “so there is a vulnerability there.” Cars self-parked in short or long-term parking, “even if they carry pretty large amounts of explosives” would not cause damage to the airport’s front, so they are not searched.

This is not to say vehicles self-parked at the airport aren’t ever subject to search. As the San Diego International Airport pointed out on its website, if the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, were to heighten security alerts, it could initiate “random inspections of vehicles entering the airport roadways and parking lots.”

TheBlaze reached out to the TSA’s national headquarters for further comment on this practice but did not receive a response at the time of this posting. We will update the article if/when we receive a comment.

The report stated that the inspection involves looking into the trunk and engine and a “scan” of the inside of the car, which does not include opening the glove compartment or the console.

As for Iacuzza being unaware of the search, WHEC reported seeing a sign telling customers of the inspection at the valet parking kiosk window, but the woman said such a sign wasn’t there when she left her car. WHEC also noted that the valet parking company wouldn’t tell them when they put that sign in the window.

valet parking tsa inspection
(Image: WHEC video screenshot)

“I think the public should be aware of the fact that if their car is going to be searched, they should be informed of it,” Iacuzza told WHEC.

Watch the report: