Confiscated corkscrews to be sold to highest bidder by state

Corkscrews? The state has them in bulk -- and auctions them off on a regular basis. (Arizona Department of Administration photo)

Corkscrews? The state has them in bulk -- and auctions them off on a regular basis. (Arizona Department of Administration photo)

PHOENIX -- Wondering what to get that special wine lover for Christmas?

How about a corkscrew?

Or several hundred of them?

Turns out the state of Arizona auctions them off at pretty regular intervals. And if the most recent sale is any indication, you can get them at rock-bottom prices.

One bucket of 7.5 pounds of the devices sold for $26. And another went for a mere $12.50.

So how, you might ask, does state government come into possession of so many wine-opening devices?

Blame negligent travelers.

Turns out the state has a deal with the Transportation Security Administration. You know, the people who staff the checkpoints at airports.

Well, it seems that Arizonans, perhaps fearing they'll be caught unable to open a bottle of wine while on vacation, tend to put them in their pockets, purses and carry-on luggage. And if the device has a small blade to cut through the foil, that's a strict no-no.

So TSA collects them.

Megan Rose, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, said the TSA will hold anything seized or left for some period of time. What's not picked up ends up going to the state.

And there apparently are a lot of wine lovers out there.

"We get approximately 20-plus pounds of corkscrews a month,'' Rose told Capitol Media Services. So once a month they are put into batches and become part of the regular auction of surplus property.

But it's not just corkscrews.

The state also ends up with a whole bunch of pocket knives, both Swiss army style -- complete with corkscrew -- and regular. Rose figures her agency gets about 200 pounds of those every four to six weeks.

And the auction includes there are other things that TSA collects from passengers.

"We also have a ton of tools,'' she said, "wrenches, hammers screwdrivers. (It's) crazy what people try to bring on a plane.''

In fact, Rose said, the least surprising things are those corkscrews "because people probably take them from hotels.''

"But hammers?'' she added.

Rose said most of the stuff like this the state auctions off comes from the TSA in Phoenix.

"But we get some stuff from Tucson, usually around even six to 12 months,'' she said, depending on when a truck is available "and when storage becomes a problem for them.'' She figures the regular Tucson haul, when it shows up, averages about 35 pounds a month.

And don't be sad about missing the last sale, just before Thanksgiving.

The state has another batch of goodies up for grabs this coming Wednesday. And you can show up in person at 1537 W. Jackson St. in Phoenix any day before then between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and up to 3 p.m. on auction day.

Or you can just bid online.

The current auction list is at "http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/arizona,az/list/current?orgid=65113."

While there are no corkscrews in this particular batch, you can put in your offer for one of two 7.5-pound batches of Swiss army knives. You know, the ones with corkscrews built it.

The most recent bid for one batch was $42, with $36 bid for the other.

Oh, and if you've got something else in mind for a Christmas gift, other available items include not just various batches of other kinds of knives -- complete with pictures -- but even some used LG brand smartphones that the state has decided it no longer needs because the users have upgraded.

If you want to go big, there's another online auction Thursday where you can get a batch of geotrackers or even a Caterpillar road grader.

And even more online auctions are in the works.

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