Update: Valet parked cars searched under TSA regulations

Posted at: 07/18/2013 6:04 PM
Updated at: 07/18/2013 6:12 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

We've received dozens of emails about our story on certain cars getting searched at the Greater Rochester International Airport. So we decided to do more digging and now we have a clearer picture on who came up with this decision.

It was a joint decision between the local TSA office and the Rochester Airport Administration. News10NBC learned this after talking to the airport spokesperson.

More than half a million people watched our initial story online, including the staff of Senator Chuck Schumer. They told him what we found out.

Senator Chuck Schumer said, “There is no TSA protocol for doing this and so we have to find out what happened and why. It certainly raises a lot of questions and we intend to get answers.”

Here's what we already know. Every car that gets valet parked at the Greater Rochester International Airport gets searched at the curb side and again before the driver picks it back up. Cars parked in short term or long term parking lots are not searched.  It happened to Laurie Iacuzza. She found a notice on her dashboard when she picked her car up.

Iacuzza says no one told her that her car was going to be inspected until she got the notice.

Iacuzza said, “If they had informed me that my car was going to be searched, it probably wouldn't have been a problem. But you just don't go into people's cars and search without permission.”

Our initial story made the top headline on the Drudge Report Thursday morning and lead to more than 500,000 web hits and dozens of questions from you. We took some of your concerns to attorney Gary Muldoon. He talked to us clutching a copy of the constitution.

Gary Muldoon, attorney, said, “Part of my concern is who is doing the searching?  Is it a federal agent? Is it a uniform officer?”

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, It's the valet attendants that are being charged to search the vehicles.”

Muldoon said, “On a day to day basis, that's the biggest concern. My bigger concern is what George Orwell wrote about in 1984. Is big brother watching us?”

We all agree that security at the airport is very important. When News10NBC interviewed the local director of the TSA Wednesday, he said this was a proactive approach. They think valet parked cars are a vulnerability because they can be left alone at the curb side for longer periods of time. There is a large sign at the valet parking kiosk now alerting customers about the inspections. Laurie Iacuzza insists it wasn't there when she used the service a couple of weeks ago.