These Are the Most Commonly Lost Items At Businesses

As the leading lost and found platform, Boomerang has a treasure trove of insights about what items people lose, where they lose them, and whether or not they get them back. 

From the type of business to geography, weather, and even the day of the week, we see it all. The insights are sometimes expected, but in other cases, surprising. We combined our first-party data with a meta-analysis of other public articles, surveys, and reports to produce this comprehensive review. 

Take cell phones, for example. According to CNBC, Americans lose a whopping 113 smartphones every minute. That’s a staggering 160,000 per day and a mind-boggling 30 million per year!

While it’s easy to imagine people losing things at airports and on airlines, the most commonly lost items at these locations are electronics and apparel, followed by travel documents, luggage, bags, umbrellas, wallets/purses, jewelry, keys, sunglasses, and other small personal items. As you’d expect, small electronics like earbuds, phones, watches, and fitness health-tracking devices are lost everywhere since people carry them to most places. 

Let’s take a closer look at other locations and what people lose there. 

Found item leaders at universities are by far small electronics like headphones, computers, tablets, phones, smartwatches, and fitness health trackers. After small electronics, there is an abundance of water bottles, wallets/purses, and IDs (student IDs, driver’s licenses, and passports) found on campus. 

Shopping malls are also a minefield for lost items, especially wallets, IDs, electronics, and even entire shopping bags. People also tend to lose keys and small electronics at their office buildings. At sporting events and concert venues, people misplace things like sunglasses, small electronics, souvenirs, and even medical supplies like diabetes kits, inhalers, and medication. Public transportation like buses, trains, and metros are where people tend to lose small everyday carry items like phones, wallets, and keys. Restaurants and bars are notorious for misplaced or forgotten personal items such as credit cards, wallets, keys, phones, jewelry, and even umbrellas. 

According to Uber’s 2022 Lost and Found Index report, riders often leave behind phones, wallets, cameras, IDs, keys, and e-cigarettes. Surprisingly, there are even those who forget items like CPAP machines, gold and diamond-encrusted teeth grills, and sports jerseys. According to Disney, 210 sunglasses are turned into Magic Kingdom’s Lost and Found on a typical day. That means since Walt Disney World opened in 1971, finders have turned in over 1.65 million sunglasses. Other big items collected at Disney’s lost and found center include 6,000 cell phones, 3,500 digital cameras, 18,000 hats, and 7,500 autograph books. 

In summary, no matter the type of business you run, the reality is if you’re hosting people on the property, you’re likely to find lost items. Losing an item is not a fad; it’s not a temporary issue. People will continue losing items, and lost items will continue to be found everywhere. 

What has shifted is lost item owners now – thanks to AirTags, Tiles, and other tracking devices – know where their item is, and businesses are under pressure to quickly inventory, match, and return those found items (read our recent blog on this topic here). 

When a customer goes through your lost and found user journey, their happiness is now based on how easy and effective the process is. 

Was getting my claim across to the business easy? Do I trust you have a sound operation behind the curtain? Did you communicate well with me throughout the entire process? How long was I without my item? If my item was found, how painful was the shipping process? If shipped, do I feel gouged by your shipping rates? 

All of this really depends on who your partner is in your lost and found tech stack. It can either be a magical moment and NPS booster, or a complete miss and NPS score ding.

Skyler Logsdon

CEO, Boomerang