It’s not surprising that straphangers leave items such as cell phones and handbags on subways and buses, but even bikes make it to the MTA New York City Transit’s lost and found.
Eventually unclaimed items are auctioned off by the agency, making about $30,000 to $50,000 a year for its operation budget.
But don’t worry. Items are not sold as soon they arrive at the lost and found. On average items are kept there for about six months, said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.
“We make every effort to reunite the property with their owners,” he said.
For example, if it’s a cell phone, they will call its saved contacts, or, if it’s a wallet, they’ll look for an I.D.
Also, anyone who thinks they lost something on local transit can file a claim online.
The majority of items make it back to their owners, said Ortiz.
The ones that aren’t returned are auctioned periodically along with surplus items from the agency, such as desks and file cabinets, and scrap metal and parts. MTA memorabilia items are also sold to the public, but have fixed prices.
In total, the MTA makes about $10 million a year from selling all of those items.
There’s no timeline on when the items are sold, said Ortiz, but there is an auction that just started.
Some of the items people can bid on include violins, skateboards, jewelry, laptops and office chairs.
Until October 19 anyone interested in the lost and found or surplus items can email or fax a bid.