Prague Lost Property Office Records Sharp Increase In Misplaced Items From Last Year
The amount of lost property in Prague is increasing. In the first eight months of this year, Prague’s municipal lost and found office on Karolíny Světlé in the centre of the city has registered almost as many lost items as in the whole of last year. On average, only about a tenth of the lost property is reclaimed by the owners.
So far in 2023, the capital has registered over 4,800 received items. For the whole of last year, the figure was 5,000. Most lost property is found on public transport, most commonly bags, wallets, headphones or mobile phones. However, there are also some more unusual items, such as mobile air conditioning, school report cards, saws, ukuleles and handcuffs.
The increase in lost items is probably related to the return of a greater number of tourists to the streets of Prague. Only a small proportion of lost items are recovered by their owners; out of the 5,000 lost items registered last year, only 512 were returned to their owners. Out of the 4,800 found this year, just 324 have been reclaimed.
The most common place for people to forget their belongings is public transport. The Prague transport company (DPP) separately recorded 4,194 finds in just seven months of this year, mainly bags, backpacks, mobile phones, keys, wallets, payment cards, headphones and public transport tickets, of which 45% of objects were returned (1,890 items). DPP subsequently passes all uncollected items without personal data forwards to the central municipal lost property office.
Various curiosities ended up in the office this year, including an abdominal muscle booster, a table saw, firecrackers, a milk frother, a mobile air conditioner, a sewing machine, metal handcuffs, a ukulele, a coffee machine, a demijohn, and climbing gear.
The numbers from the last two years are still lower than before the pandemic. In 2018, 6,960 items were found, and in 2019 this rose to 7,929. During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of lost and found items logically decreased significantly, and the nature of the items reflected the decrease in the number of foreign visitors, comprising far fewer wallets with foreign currency, foreign language guides, books, souvenirs, or gift items.
All found items are kept in the storage facility on Karolíny Světlé. Finders of the lost items can hand them in anonymously. Owners must then prove ownership of the item, and prove their identity with an ID card or passport. Items are kept on site for a period of three years, with a storage fee of three crowns per day payable by the owners.
Items that cannot be used by the City of Prague or its organisations are then sold in a monthly sale, in a collection of found items, rather than individually. The purchase is open to all, with the offer price as the only criterion. In the past, in connection with the adoption of the new Civil Code, the finder can now reserve the right to become the owner of the found item after the storage period has expired. All finds and sales are listed on the Official City Hall Noticeboard; details can be found here.