Razor-sharp, ultra-thin knives carried in receptacles with the dimensions of credit cards are causing a major headache at airports for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF).
Box-cutter knives were used with deadly effect by the hijackers during the devastating ‘9/11’ attack on New York on 11 September 2001. Credit card knives are every bit as sharp as box-cutters, and vastly easier to conceal. They can sit inside your wallet, just like a credit card.
Now, a blitz has been launched against them. In New South Wales, you can be jailed for 14 years for carrying one.
The AFP and ABF launched a national day of action at airports across Australia yesterday to raise awareness that credit-card knives are prohibited items. They acted after seizures rose 20 times higher this year than in 2014.
In the first six months of 2015 (1 January – 30 June) 493 credit-card knives were seized by the AFP at airports around Australia. This is almost 20 times more than the same period in 2014 when only 25 were seized.
Of the 493, 159 were found here at Sydney Airport, 146 at Melbourne Airport, 84 at Perth Airport, 25 at Brisbane Airport, 30 at Gold Coast Airport, 17 at Canberra Airport, 16 at Cairns Airport, 13 at Adelaide Airport and three at Darwin Airport. As a result of the seizures 50 people were charged.
AFP’s acting National Manager Aviation Sharon Cowden appealed yesterday to the common sense of the travelling public, urging them to dispose of credit-card knives.
“Despite the obvious danger of credit-card knives, the latest statistics show more and more knives are being seized at airports across Australia. You wouldn’t try to put a kitchen knife in your wallet or purse, so why carry a credit-card knife?” acting Assistant Commissioner Cowden said.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Cowden said the national day of action is all about awareness.
“While the number of credit-card knives seized demonstrates the effectiveness of airport screening process, it shows that members of the travelling public incorrectly believe that these items are not dangerous, and unlawful to take on aircraft.
“Today our officers, at all nine airports policed by the AFP across Australia, are out engaging with the travelling public about the issue of credit-card knives. We are also appealing to the public via our social media channels and through media events such as this,” acting Assistant Commissioner Cowden said.
Not only are the items banned from being taken on domestic and international flights, all states and territories have offences applicable to the possession of a knife without a lawful or reasonable excuse.
“If you carry a credit-card knife, you will be caught and you will face court, and the penalties for carrying a concealed prohibited item are serious. Just ask four men aged between 24 and 36 appearing before Sydney courts in the coming week for allegedly concealing credit-card knives,” acting Assistant Commissioner Cowden said.
In NSW, a person found carrying a credit-card knife may be charged with ‘possess prohibited weapon’ under the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998, which has a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.
Furthermore, buying them – usually online – is also illegal in most states and territories. All jurisdictions have offences relating to the sale of a knife that is manufactured in a manner that disguises or conceals the blade, and gives the impression of an innocuous item such as a plastic card, with similar dimensions to that of a credit card.
To help prevent these dangerous weapons making it into the travelling public’s wallets, the AFP has been working closely with online retail site eBay to take down 20 online listings selling credit-card knives.
Regional Commander of the Australian Border Force, Tim Fitzgerald, said agencies are working together on the prohibited items.
“The Australian Border Force has just concluded a two week operation today, in support of the AFP campaign, targeting interventions of credit card incorporating a concealed knife or blade for air and sea passengers, international mail and air cargo.
“It is pleasing that our seizure rates have increased as a result of this operation and we will continue to work closely with the AFP and other agencies on this emerging issue,” Commander Tim Fitzgerald said.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Cowden said ignorance is not an excuse.
“If you have a credit card knife, it may be easy to forget it is in your wallet/purse, but that will not cut it. The penalties for carrying a concealed prohibited item are serious.
“So if you’ve got a credit-card knife in your wallet, get rid of it!”
Edited by Peter Needham