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Police work to reunite owners with lost goods

Sharjah: It’s not really lost until Sharjah Police can’t find it.

So says the Lost and Found office of the police which is tasked with hunting down personal items midslaced throughout the emirate on a daily basis by residents and tourists alike.

One recent case, for example, involved officers responding to a report by an elderly man who forgot where he parked his car. Police took the issue seriously and went to the scene, took the man around the area and found the “missing car” within an hour.

In another incident, a Saudi tourist was deeply thankful when his lost digital camera was returned to him at his home after he forgot it at Sharjah International Airport.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Allai, Director of the Wasit Police station and director of the Lost and Found department, said officers remain on the lookout for misplaced items.

There is a good return for the investment, he said.

Last year, police received 9,151 reports of lost items compared to 8,001 items reported to date this year.

Last year, the lion’s share of missing items were 4,934 official documents as compared to 6,860 missing official documents reported this year.

Some of these items were returned to their owners.

“The most commonly lost items include, official documents, mobile phones, laptop, wallets, jewellery and even animals.”

When the office receives lost official documents, it contacts owner when it knows their whereabouts to notify them of their recovered property, he said.

They are invited to report to the office to collect their items or they are forwarded to the issuing authority whether they are government institutions, private agencies or embassies, he said.

The office, Lt Col Allai said, spares no effort to reach the owners of lost items, even if they outside the country, especially for high-ticket items such as cell phones, watches, cameras, bags etc. If the person is not located they are kept until the time for legal action comes.

If the person has left the country, he said, “We send him/her the item by mail after verifying his/her identity. We dedicate a team to try to find him/her immediately. Unfortunately, some people who lose their belongings don’t inform the authority.”

Lt Col Allai said: “We check with other police departments across the UAE to ensure there are no lost item reports or if there are criminal cases involving these items.”

The lost items which remain unclaimed for six months will be auctioned. All the revenues [including lost cash] go to the government treasury.

However, if the owner claims the item after it’s auctioned, he may still receive the revenue from the sold item. While concerning documents such as passport, if no one claims within six months, the department sends it to the consulate of that country.

If it’s a UAE passport, police send it to the immigration department.

The department is governed by Law No. 5 of 2015 which states that anyone who finds any lost and/or abandoned property, including money, is obliged to hand it over to the police within 48 hours, following which the police will issue a report. The failure to do so invites criminal liability, When they return the item, they are entitled to a certificate of appreciation from Sharjah Police for honesty.

If the lost item is expensive such as jewellery, it’s stored separately in a safety box in the Lost and Found department. The entire office is constantly monitored by CCTV cameras.

“For jewellery, we have a special device to check it’s real or fake. It tells us what percentage is gold, silver, diamond and so on,” he said.

Lt Col Allai said most of the lost items which had been auctioned were those that were handed over to the police stations by Sharjah RTA and members of the public.

The department, he said, delivers lost items to their owners at their homes if they are special needs, sick or elderly persons.

In one incident, a man lost his mobile phone and a person found it and handed it over to a police station.

“From the serial number of the mobile phone, we identified the owner and returned it to him. The owner was happy as he could not believe he would get his mobile phone again,” said Lt Col Allai.

He attributed the majority of lost items due to negligence and urged the public to watch their belongings carefully.

Reporting a lost item

“There are many ways to locate your lost items. You can visit the nearest police station, you can use the Ministry of Interior app or website, or you can call Police toll-free number 901,” said Lt Col Allai,

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