What can I do to find lost valuables?

THERE are few things more exasperating – not to mention financially draining – than to lose valuable property while on holiday.

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That feeling when you lose valuables while on holiday

Witness young Canadian student Megan [surname withheld] who lost her camera, credit card and more than $500 in cash only hours after landing at Brisbane International Airport in Australia. Halfway around the globe from her social support structure, sans credit card and cash, it would have been an awful introduction to international travel if not for the upstanding values of an Indian family who found her property and handed it in at a local police station.

While Megan had already cancelled her credit card, she was thrilled when contacted by the Queensland Police Service who returned her belongings within 24hrs of it having gone missing.

Maximise your chances of retrieving lost property by following these simple steps:

Register your travel

Contact your country’s department of foreign affairs and register your travel plans prior to departure.  This will allow consular or embassy staff to get in touch with you in the event of critical news ranging from natural disasters to family emergencies. It is also a source of truth for local police when they need to contact you for something important – such as the safe and speedy return of lost property.

Meet the police

If you feel comfortable, contact the local police upon arrival at your destination and ask them if they have the capacity to record your name and contact details, should the need arise for them to get into urgent contact with you. This may not be possible everywhere, and in some locations even inadvisable, but may prove invaluable in countries with an honourable, transparent and accountable legal system. Once again, your countries department of foreign affairs may be able to enlighten you through travel advisories as to the benefits or pitfalls in dealing with local police.

Contact local security

In the event that you do lose property, report it to police so they have a record of the missing valuables and your contact details should it be located. Once that is done, make inquiries with local security or information centres in the vicinity of where the property went missing. Obviously, if you lost the property while in transit, contact the transit authorities and leave your contact details. Continue to make enquiries, as cleaners often locate the property perhaps a day or two after the event and will hand it in to their supervisors when located.

Conduct neighbourhood inquiries

Contact significant shops or businesses in close proximity to where your property went missing. A law-abiding citizen may not have sufficient time to cart your chattels to a local police station, but will pop into the nearest landmark business to hand it in. You might be lucky, you never know!

Monitor social media

Almost everyone has a social media home, whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Monitor your account and see if someone has perhaps shown the initiative to trace you on Facebook and have left a message. A word of caution, though… Beware of unscrupulous finders trying to lure you into compromised situations or locations where you may become a victim of crime. Negotiate with the finder and get him or her to meet you at a local police station or public place with a lot of witnesses when you retrieve your valuables.

Property identification

Mark your property with identifying particulars, such as inscribing your name on jewellery, or register it with tracking services such as Find My iPhone. In addition, keep a record of serial numbers or IMEI numbers in the case of cellular phones. Type *#06# on your dial pad to retrieve your IMEI number. Police often have great success in tracing lost or stolen phones through these identifying particulars.

While the above steps may all increase your chances of recovering lost possessions, the only sure-fire way of avoiding any unpleasantness is to remain vigilant when in possession of valuables.

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