Lost but Found at SMF

Lost and Found Jewelry Bin
​The airport works hard to return lost and found items to owners

​A misplaced driver’s license forgotten at the TSA security checkpoint  or a wedding ring left in a bathroom are items one might expect to find in the Lost and Found Department at the Sacramento International Airport. However, computer printers, a sewing machine and even a single shoe are among the strange items that often appear.  As the holidays bring more travelers to the airport, more items end up in the safe hands of the Lost and Found staff, which are staffed by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department.  So far this year, there have been 7,037 items found, 4,011 lost items entered into the database, 2,072 items returned, and 5,021 items booked at the Sheriff’s Property Warehouse.

 “We really try to get people back their property,” said Harryette Philpott, Administrative Service Officer and Manager of the Lost and Found.  “Most of the items have deep sentimental value. In fact, I have had people weep when I give them back their property.”

Like private investigators, the employees of Lost and Found approach each item with a critical eye, trying to identify an owner. On one occasion, a military ring was turned in and Philpott found a name engraved on the inside.  She searched the internet and found a match to the name of an employee for a company in southern California.  She contacted the company where the man worked and it ended up being a match.  The man had lost his Air Force ring while on a business trip in Sacramento. 

“We write up a very detailed description for every item that arrives here,” said Philpott. “Everything is logged into the system and specifically labeled so we can stay organized.”

Lost items typically stay in the lost and found for two weeks before they are sent to the Sheriff’s Property Warehouse for three months.  Small sentimental items like jewelry are usually held longer so travelers have time to get back into town to pick them up.  Once items are at the warehouse for three months, they are auctioned off at http://www.propertyroom.com.  However, some items are donated:  clothes go to the Salvation Army or Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE), lost glasses go to the Lions Club and lost toys are donated to the Sheriff’s Toy Project.       

Common Lost Items:

  • Jewelry
  • Driver Licenses
  • Canes
  • Coats
  • Laptops and Tablets

If an owner is identified, the items will be shipped to them at the owner’s expense.  About 35 percent of items make it back to their owners, according to Philpott.  This job is possible with the help of Sheriff’s Security Officer Willie Myers and other Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department officers from the airport division.  They do all they can to locate property and return it to its owner, she added.  

The Lost and Found also deals with contraband.  Ammunition, brass knuckles and toy guns are all stored until the EOD, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, can dispose of the items.

“The key point is people need to call if they have lost something,” Philpott said.  “If you give us a good description, we can quickly look it up in our database and find out if we have it or not.”

Tips for not losing items:

  • Arrive early so you don’t have to rush
  • Remember to put jewelry back on after you wash hands
  • When you go through security, put your driver’s license in a pocket
  • Put your phone number on everything you carry on the plane
  • Put a business card on your items
  • Have pictures of items you travel with, therefore, if they get lost you have a picture to show lost and found staff

If you have a lost item, you can make an inquiry online at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s website, the airport division, or call 916-874-0701.    

“The key point is people need to call if they have lost something,” said Harryette Philpott, Administrative Service Officer and Manager.
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