By Rae C. Munoz
These days, lost and found is the least likely ‘go-to’ place whenever something is lost or accidentally left behind. As adults, we absolutely hate it when this happens because it signifies that we were being careless with our property and that we should know better than to be so careless. Especially when the lost item is valuable, important, or irreplaceable. Recovery rate is significantly higher when the item lost was at the home of someone you know.
But what do you do when it happens in a public place? The first immediate thought would be to go back to the place where it was lost and look for it. When it is not found, the next thought is that it is gone forever. That may not be the case at College of the Desert. The lost and found in the Security Office, located in the South Modular Annex behind the McCallum Theatre, has four bins full of unclaimed items, not to mention all the items too big for the bins that are sitting in the property room.
According to John Williams, Lead Security Officer at COD, property gets turned in on a regular basis. “Anything and everything has been found and brought to us.” He should know, having worked at COD in the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Department for the past 17 years.
On average, about 30 items a week are turned in to lost and found. These items are usually turned in by staff members, the library, student services, or security, who find items left out in parking lots. When these items are turned in, they get booked into a log and a property tag gets assigned. The most common item turned in to lost and found are keys. The most unusual item turned in was a spare tire found in the parking lot.
Currently, there are approximately 165 items that have been turned in to lost and found at the COD campus since the year began. In size, they range from a thumb drive to a baby stroller. The Indio and Mecca campuses have a lost and found in their security office as well. Found property cannot stay in lost and found forever.
“By law, [an item can stay in lost and found for] 90 days,” stated Officer Williams. “But sometimes, I’ll let it go longer, especially at the beginning or at the end of the semester. Something like a textbook is pretty specific to the college environment, so we usually hold on to it for more than 90 days.”
Officer Williams also explained the fate of all the possessions in lost and found that do not get claimed. “All unclaimed items are usually donated. Government property like driver’s licenses, passports, immigration documents, and things like that are returned to the organization–meaning California DMV gets an envelope full of driver’s licenses. I’ve sent passports back to the Chinese Consulate, the Brazilian Consulate, and the Mexican Consulate.” Unfortunately, about 30 to 35 percent of found property goes unclaimed.
If, by chance, something gets lost on the Palm Desert, Indio, or Mecca campuses, go to the Security Office and report it. If they do not have the lost item, a log is created with the date, item lost, name, and phone number of the person who lost it and if the item is turned in, they will notify the person that their lost item has been recovered. The most common items reported lost are keys and eyeglasses.
In this day and age, it is hard to believe that there are still good samaritans out there who will turn in found property instead of keeping it for themselves. Items like cell phones, bracelets, gold rings, thumb drives, keys, sunglasses, eyeglasses, passports, driver’s licenses, checks, and believe it or not, money has been turned in to lost and found. The most valuable item sitting in lost and found at the Palm Desert campus right now is jewelry. So if anyone has lost something at any one of the three COD campuses, stop by and check lost and found at the Security Office; chances are it may be there waiting to be claimed.