More than 70,000 items of lost property go missing on the Tube
16:30 01 January 2013
Just one quarter of the lost property discovered on the London Underground last year was restored to its owner.
Almost 72,000 items were unearthed on the network between January and October - with the majority mislaid Oyster cards, credit cards and other books.
A total of 10,817 separate items and bags of clothing were also lost during this period, with 1,326 eventually reclaimed, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Around one in 20 pieces of the 2,220 items of jewellery mislaid on the Tube was returned, while 833 pairs of gloves remain locked up at Transport for London’s lost property office in Baker Street.
Unclaimed items become the property of TfL after three months and are either donated to charity, recycled or auctioned off - with the money going towards the running of the lost property office.
On average, one in four items is restored to their owner. Higher value property generally has a higher success rate.
Manager Paul Cowan said: “We do our best to reunite people with their property, through a combination of our own detective work, using the computer system and through passengers contacting us to claim items.
“Although we store property for three months, sadly a large number of items remain unclaimed after that period.
“It is always rewarding when we can reunite passengers with their items, they are always surprised by how honest people have been in handling in their property.”
The figures also show a substantial rise in lost property over the summer months - during the Olympics. Some 9,236 items went missing in July 2012 compared to 7,617 in June.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of gloves found was at its highest in January and February.
The 656 found in these two months was more than those discovered over the subsequent nine months.
With a nod to London’s wet summer, the highest number of lost umbrellas was found in July - with just 22 returned to their grateful owners.
TfL’s Lost Property Office - key facts
The Lost Property Office first opened its doors to the public at the end of 1933.
Helmets and gas masks were often lost during the Second World War and in 1954 the most common item lost were pairs of gloves - with 90,632 received.
Mobile phones have certainly increased in popularity.
In 1998 2,496 were recovered but in 2011 the amount received went up to 25,539.
The office is based at 200 Baker Street, London NW1 5RZ and is open to customers Monday to Friday, between 8.30am and 4pm except for public holidays.
Enquiries can be made by contacting 0845 330 9882 or by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk/lpo