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A visit to the Lost Property Office

A visit to the Lost Property Office

The Lost Property Office, located in a corner of Stadium Station.
The Lost Property Office, located in a corner of Stadium Station.

Regular readers will remember that I did a story on the Lost Property Office in the March 14 Buzzer. However, since this blog lets me show you way more photos and details, I thought I’d go back to Lost Property and do an update to that article.

I went down to Stadium Station, where the office is located, and work leader Barb Szumilak gave me another tour behind the scenes. They collect about 4,000 items a month, and really, just about anything you could lose on transit winds up at the office. So next time you leave a shopping bag or an umbrella behind, go down there—they really might have it! Let’s take a closer look.

The main storage room where lost property items are kept. As you can see, they dont have a lot of room.
The main storage room where lost property items are kept. As you can see, they don't have a lot of room.

Walk into the back and you’ll see a small storage room where almost everything is kept. There’s not that much space, so Lost Property can only hold onto your stuff for a limited time. Timelines have become shorter, too—Lost Property used to hold onto small items for 30 days, but many of them are now kept for only 10 or 14 days. Wallets and other valuables are still held for 30 days, though.

Just a small sample of the many umbrellas left on transit. This year we've collected 5,700 umbrellas so far -- in 2007, we collected 5,900.
Just a small sample of the many umbrellas left on transit. This year we've collected 5,700 umbrellas so far -- in 2007, we collected 5,900.

What happens to the stuff if no one picks it up? Well, items like Care Cards and birth certificates are sent back to their government agencies, but the rest is donated to charity.

And for reference, here’s a list of some small items they hold onto and for how long:

10 days: Binders, books, bottles, gloves, hats, jackets, mugs, pants, papers, posters, scarves, shirts, shoes, sippy cups

14 days: Bikes, used bags

Travel mugs looking for a home!
Travel mugs looking for a home!

Where do all the items come from? Every day the office gets them from the bus depots, SkyTrain, and SeaBus. Drivers and attendants tag each item with the date and the route it was found on, and drop them into sealed boxes that are delivered to Lost Property. (In 2007, this added up to 40,512 items, and this year we’re already up to 30,841 items and counting.)

A box of wallets that are waiting to be picked up by their owners.
A box of wallets that are waiting to be picked up by their owners.

Clerks log all the items, and look through everything to see if a name or other identification is found. So, if you lose something important on transit, you might get a call from Lost Property if they figure out that it’s yours. Barb says the office returns over $50,000 a year to patrons who have lost wallets.

Bikes lost on transit, stored near the Lost Property Office.
Bikes lost on transit, stored near the Lost Property Office.

Bikes do turn up at Lost Property—475 have come in so far this year, while last year we got 440 of them. Lots are simply left on buses, but some show up because riders have chained their bikes to bus stops, which is a big no-no. (There’s many reasons for this—bikes can stop visually impaired people from seeing the bus stop, the bikes can be a hazard for bus boarding, etc.) The bus stop maintenance staff will remove your bike from the stop and take it down to Lost Property, and usually they will leave a note on the pole saying that they’ve done so.

The enormous array of cell phone chargers that Lost Property clerks use to charge phones back up. Once they're fully powered, clerks can search the phones for identifying information.
The enormous array of cell phone chargers that Lost Property clerks use to charge phones back up. Once they're fully powered, clerks can search the phones for identifying information.

Only about 25 per cent of items are returned to their rightful owners each year! It could be because people think that once they’ve left something on transit, it’s gone forever—but really, Lost Property is there collecting it all, and they would love you to get in touch if you lose anything on public transportation.

Feel free to call Lost Property at 604-682-7887, email lost_property@translink.bc.ca, or visit the office at Stadium Station on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You should really consider using the e-mail address instead of calling, too. The staff handles a couple hundred calls every day, but they only get about 15 to 20 e-mails daily. So, if you’re not getting through on the phone, you really should try sending an e-mail—they will read and respond to your request!

Lost your lantern? Lost Property has it!
Lost your lantern? Lost Property has it!

There weren’t as many oddities lying around the office this time around, but this lantern was one item still in search of its owner. In the past, Barb said they’ve received such items as quarter panels of a car, jackhammers, dentures, and once, a prosthetic leg. She’s also seen big suitcases, a 6’ x 5’ mirror, oars from boats, and fishing rods come through the office. Plus, there’s sometimes “miracle healings,” when wheelchairs and crutches are found abandoned on transit.

Here’s some more photos of stuff the office is hanging onto right now.

If you've left your shopping bag on the bus, check Lost Property. They hold on to all bags for 14 days.
If you've left your shopping bag on the bus, check Lost Property. They hold on to all bags for 14 days.
Somebody's missing out on their home spa treatment.
Somebody's missing out on their home spa treatment.
Skateboard, hard hat, blue wheel thing. If any of this is yours, get in touch!
Skateboard, hard hat, blue wheel thing. If any of this is yours, get in touch!
Your paperbacks aren't lost forever. Lost Property could very well have them.
Your paperbacks aren't lost forever. Lost Property could very well have them.

And just for fun, here’s two photos of oddball items that I saw in the office in March.

Dentures! Photo taken during my visit in March 2008.
Dentures! Photo taken during my visit in March 2008.
This unique stool has a happy ending. When its picture ran in the Buzzer in March, somebody saw it and went to claim it!
The story of this unique-looking stool has a happy ending. When its picture ran in the Buzzer in March, somebody saw it and went to claim it!

Thanks so much to Barb and the staff at the Lost Property office for letting me visit! And again, if you need the contact info, feel free to call Lost Property at 604-682-7887, email lost_property@translink.bc.ca, or visit the office at Stadium Station on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Try e-mailing them instead of calling: it works just as well!)