Finding what you lost

Traveling or living abroad is an all-encompassing experience. Parts of your brain that are usually on autopilot at home tend to come alive with awareness, absorption, and adaptation. But that heightened state doesn’t mean you won’t get distracted. Or forget things. Or leave things behind.

A recent article described how efficient the Japanese are at reuniting lost items with their owners. In Tokyo, for example, 2018 saw 83% of lost mobile phones returned to their owners, and 65% of lost wallets, according to the BBC.

Credit is given to Japan’s kōban, neighborhood police kiosks whose ubiquitous presence and friendly officers foster honesty from an early age.

What about other places? Apparently – and not surprisingly – there is a much lower chance of your wallet or phone being turned in to police in New York – about 10% and 6%, respectively, according to a University of Michigan study.

Would you know how to go about finding a lost item in, say, the New York City subway system? Here’s a look at the Lost & Found details from transit authorities in a few major cities around the world:

New York City MTA:
Step-by-step Instructions on What to Do:

Things lost in New York range from blood pressure meters to hockey sticks to dentures, with lots of cell phones, wallets, and umbrellas in between. With 5.7 million people riding the subway on an average weekday, some of those people are bound to lose something.

Items are held by the MTA for at least 3 months (unless perishable or in poor condition, in which case they’re discarded), and up to 3 years.

London’s Transport for London (TFL):

The Underground cautions that it can take up to 7 days to collect and catalog items left behind. Items are held for 3 months, and then donated, recycled, disposed of, or sold.

Authorities will not keep individual credit cards. They are securely destroyed when found, and owners are advised to contact their banks for replacement when they realize they are lost.

Paris RATP: 

Items lost in Paris within the past 5 days are reported by phone, while items lost longer ago are reported via an online form.

Lost credit cards are sent to a centralized payment center in Limoges, where cards are returned to the issuing banks. But note that while French-issued cards are returned within 2 days, it may take up to 60 days to return a non-French card. Customers are advised to contact their bank to suspend the old card and issue a new one.

– One key takeaway is to act quickly but have patience. All mass transit systems take some time to get your item into the system. Then a wide variance in the amount of time items are kept mean that your item could be discarded within 30 days or stored for three years.

– Metro authorities deal with lost tickets in different ways, some simply discarding them while others give their owners an opportunity to file a lost-item inquiry for them.

– Anything monetary related – like a metro card linked to your credit card that automatically reloads – riders should plan to address it quickly.

– Finally, be aware of what you’re carrying in your bag or purse, so if you lose the whole unit you can identify lost items, and replace them promptly if necessary.

And if you should find yourself on the Tokyo Metro and lose something, click here and then rest assured that you have a very good chance of it being returned to you.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS,  Product Manager, Content Group