One has to figure, over the course of any trip, be it business or pleasure, there are dozens of opportunities to lose things.
Hotels, shuttles, restaurants, buses, rental cars, airplanes, taxis, restrooms, and yes, even security checkpoints present "opportunities" to lose that special piece of jewelry, the cell phone, laptop, bluetooth, belt, hat, car keys, DVD player, passports and the list goes on and on, up to and including dentures (which we have actually found, and no, weren't required to be removed).
Solving the mystery of who belongs to what is incredibly labor-intensive but TSA employees across the country work to get these items back to their rightful owner; all in addition to their “regular” jobs of protecting the traveling public. It should be clear, TSA doesn't manage lost and found in all airports, some police departments, air carriers or airports can handle lost and found responsibilities too.
I know of cases where our people have found a cell phone owner simply by calling a number in the address book. We have had success using Web sites like MySpace to find the owner of a lost driver's license. We've even had cases of officers calling that grocery store from the club card on key chains to find an owner. Whatever the case, we have had some success.
Other times, it's simply impossible to find the owner. There are no identifying characteristics from an owner on a belt, a hat or a scarf. Once in a while though, we'll have a name and number on a walker, cane, stroller or car seat. No lie, people lose this stuff.
So, when an items falls into our lap at an airport like L.A., we'll log it, the time it was found, the terminal, the airline servicing that terminal and the lane; all clues that help us identify the rightful owner, should that person call to claim it.
I spoke with Hector Moreno, an officer at LAX who provided this brief tour of our lost and found operation.
While I was with Hector, a passenger had come into the office to claim an item, here is his story.
Additionally, I received an email last week from a passenger who wanted to applaud the work officers had done to reunite him with his watch.
Jeffrey Neuman flew through LAX around Mother's Day and inadvertently left his collector Cartier watch in one of our bins. Knowing the value of his watch, he fully expected to never see it again. Boy, was he in for a surprise.
So given the huge volume of items that are left at the checkpoints at LAX and I am sure around the country, the next time one of your items goes missing, give the local lost and found a call, it's quite possible we have it.
However, don't wait too long, as we only hold onto items valued at less than 500 bucks for 30 days, at which point they are donated to the General Services Administration, the government's entity responsible for property. More expensive items are held at our national HQ warehouse for up to two years.
One last thought, if possible, put your name on your items or tape a business card to an item, especially laptops, it sure makes the process of reuniting these items with passengers much easier.
EoS Blog Team