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Here's what LAX passengers say TSA agents lost or damaged

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If you've had a laptop computer lost or damaged during security screening at Los Angeles International Airport, you are not alone.

Laptop computers are the item most often listed as lost or damaged in claim reports filed against the Transportation Security Administration at LAX, according to an analysis of TSA records.

In a three-year period, passengers at LAX filed 1,702 claims, second only to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, with 2,277 claims, according to the records for November 2007 to December 2010.

At LAX, passengers filed 202 claims against the TSA for the lost or damaged laptop computers, 166 claims for clothing, 132 claims for digital cameras and 124 claims for luggage locks, the records show.

The average dollar amount cited in the claims for laptop computers was $1,437, according to the records. To determine whether the federal agency is responsible, TSA officials say, the claims are researched using information provided by the passenger and its own video surveillance footage.

But the chances of getting reimbursed are pretty low. The TSA paid out only 13% of those LAX passengers' claims for laptops. As for lost or damaged digital cameras, the TSA approved fewer than 1% of those claims.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said passengers who worry about losing valuable items at LAX should either pack them in a carry-on bag or leave them at home. Do not put them in your checked bags, he said.

And if you do lose something at the airport, Melendez said, first check lost-and-found desks operated by the airport police, the TSA and the airlines.

Texas dumps its bill against pat-downs

In other TSA-related news, a bill to prohibit the agency from performing invasive pat-down searches in Texas was withdrawn last week after the federal government threatened to make the Lone Star State a no-fly zone.

The bill, written by state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would have made it a misdemeanor for any public servant to touch certain body parts during a search without probable cause.

The bill was approved by the state's House, but the bill's sponsor in the Senate withdrew the legislation after U.S. Atty. John Murphy delivered a letter last week to state lawmakers. In the letter, Murphy said the proposed law would conflict with federal law and would force the TSA to cancel all flights if it could not ensure the safety of the passengers and crew.

In a statement posted on his campaign website, Simpson called the federal government's threat a "brazen show of disregard for the dignity and the constitutional rights of American citizens."

Many small-business owners won't vacation

The nation's economy may be improving, but many small-business owners say they are still not ready to take time off to relax this summer.

A survey of 501 small-business owners taken this month by a division of American Express found that only 46% of such entrepreneurs planned to take a full week of vacation this summer, compared with 67% in 2006.

Asked why they planned no weeklong vacation, 37% said they were too busy, 29% said they couldn't afford it, 10% said they had no one to fill in for them, and 16% said they never take a vacation. The remaining 8% said they didn't know why or declined to answer.

Charity auction features autographed luggage

If you hurry, you might still have time to bid on Weird Al Yankovic's fur pouch messenger bag or Lindsay Lohan's duffel bag. Donald Trump's attache case and Chelsea Handler's tote might also be available.

To raise money for charity and promote JetBlue Airways' policy of allowing passengers to check one bag free of charge, the airline is auctioning off autographed luggage donated by 50 celebrities.

The first round of EBay auctions ends Monday, and a second round runs Tuesday through June 6. Proceeds go to Do Something, a nonprofit that tries to encourage volunteerism among youngsters.

As of last week, the luggage drawing the highest bids — more than $1,000 — was the signed briefcase from Trump. Inside, the Donald has packed two round-trip tickets to anywhere JetBlue flies, two VIP tickets to the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas and two tickets for the pageant's after party.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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