Thousands of lost property items unclaimed every week, says Transport for London

Some unexpected items can turn up on public transport in London  (Yui Mok/PA)
Some unexpected items can turn up on public transport in London (Yui Mok/PA)

Public transport users in London are failing to claim thousands of lost property items handed in every week.

Transport for London (TfL) is urging passengers who accidentally leave belongings on trains and buses to check if they have been retrieved.

The transport authority moved its lost property office from South Kensington to West Ham last month to accommodate the rising number of objects being stored and to improve processing times.

TfL’s first lost property office opened 90 years ago.

Lost property office performance manager Diana Quaye said the success rate of items being reclaimed is “very small”.

“When we moved here, there were about 62,000 items. We receive around 6,000 items a week.

“It’s a very small success rate of people claiming the items. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel if they lose an item, nobody will hand it in.

“There’s a large amount of items that we have within the lost property office, so we do advise that if you lose any type of item please go online and see if you can reclaim it.”

Ms Quaye said some of the most common types of items handed in are mobile phones, headphones, bags and umbrellas.

Recent examples of more unusual objects include a giant octopus soft toy and a homemade costume inspired by sci-fi television series Doctor Who.

In relation to the latter, Ms Quaye said: “We had a Dalek costume the other day. Everybody was saying ‘how would you lose that?’.”

Anyone who loses an item on London’s public transport network is encouraged to enter the details on a form on TfL’s website. They will then be contacted if it is recovered.

Items handed in are stored for up to three months. After that period, anything unclaimed is donated to charity, recycled, disposed of or sold. Cash is held for up to a year.