Press Article: Cat's Clicks: Recover Lost or Stolen Items

Cat's Clicks: Recover Lost or Stolen Items

Cat Schwartz contributed to this article.
Originally posted August 23, 2002

By Christi Morales and Rachel Newman

Today Cat shows you how to recover lost or stolen property online. It doesn't even have to be yours.

By Christi Morales and Rachel Newman

Police property rooms and airline unclaimed luggage warehouses are packed full of everything from Rolex watches and jewelry to bicycles and cameras. The police and airlines make every attempt to reunite items with their proper owners, however, when items are not claimed or the rightful owners cannot be identified, the items are put up for auction. Today Cat shows you how get help finding your lost or stolen property. You can also get some great deals on unclaimed items just sitting in storage.

Before you become a victim of crime, inventory your personal belongings. Remember to jot down the serial numbers, model numbers, and manufacturer as well as any distinguishing characteristics. Keep your inventory in a safe place outside your home. Read Roger's home inventory tips here.

Search for everything -- including man's best friend

The Internet Lost and Found is a free (and large) online classified forum. It has several sections, including electronics, clothing, baggage, tickets, and jewelry. Each section lets you report a lost item, report a found item, search for lost items, or search for found items. The most active part of the site is the pets section. Many shelters enter lost and found pets into the database. If you're looking for Fido, this is the place to go.

Recover stolen items will help you recover stolen items. Here's what you need to do if an item is stolen.

  1. File a police report.
  2. Go to or Property Room to register the item.
    • Set up an account with your name, address, phone number, email address, username, and password.
    • Describe your item. You'll need to know the brand, model number, and serial number. Be sure to include the name of your local police department, city, and police report number.
  3. If your item is returned to a participating police department, you'll get it back for free.
Buy stuff back, even if it's not yours

Anyone can bid on items that aren't claimed at the auction site. Property Bureau, an organization run by former police officers, manages the site. Buyers don't need to wait for real-world police auctions. Bid any time of the day or night on items in property rooms across the United States.

Sign up for an auction account (it's kinda like signing up for eBay). This is a different account than the one you created to register your stolen items.

Search for the item you want to buy. Goods are separated by category.

Place a bid. A proxy bid will allow you to set a maximum price and bid in increments until you reach your limit. An absolute bid sets your bid at the highest price.

Confirm your bid.

Some items cannot be shipped overseas. You'll be notified if there's a problem with your bid.

Proceeds from each auction are put in a scholarship fund for the children of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Unclaimed baggage

Most of the unclaimed luggage from US airports ends up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Although walking through this house of unclaimed wares is a lot of fun, you don't need to take a trip to Scottsboro to browse through the goodies. Just go online to find used clothing, electronics, jewelry, and even restaurant equipment.

Some lucky customers find more in their purchases than they bargain for. One little girl bought a Barbie doll. When she popped the doll's head off, she found $500 dollars in cash stashed inside. Another customer discovered an unnamed amount of cash in a hollowed out soap on a rope.

The store also carries items from unclaimed cargo. Bargain-hungry shoppers who are wary of purchasing previously worn pajamas can cash in on new products from popular brands like Gap, Nike, and KitchenAid.

Not all items found in baggage are particularly sellable, however. Staff has found strange and amazing things in unclaimed luggage, including a live rattlesnake and a guidance component for a F16 fighter jet, worth a quarter of a million dollars. But even if you don't end up with a new pet snake, Unclaimed Baggage is still worth the virtual trip.

Venue Account Access
Poster ID
The Internet Lost and Found provides users with the ability to locally distribute their online ad using posters. These posters contain an Ad ID number which corresponds to the online ad.
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