Shanghai Metro puts lost and found items online

If you lose something when riding the Metro, you can report it with just a click — but the service is currently available only in Chinese.

Wallets, bank cards, backpacks, mobile phones, laptops and passports — they all get left on the Metro.

Now, however, it is easier to find them, thanks to an online lost and found list on Shanghai Metro’s website.

The new “lost and found” section, which has over 500 items handed in, is available on The list was started on September 30.

For passengers making lost and found requests to the website, the system is a much faster and more user-friendly process than the days of needing to seek police or Metro staff in person.

Furthermore, lost and found information was not efficiently shared between the different Metro lines.

Now, once a request is submitted through the system,  the Metro company will within 48 hours match the item claimed to be lost with its inventory of lost items found by Metro police, staff or passengers, the company said.

“The passenger who requested it can come back to the website to check progress of the lost and found process, and if the item is recovered, we will inform him right away,” said Yang Yizhong, a Metro official.

But if there are no positive results after 48 hours, the passenger is advised to resubmit a request or call the Metro hotline 64370000 for further help.

The inventory list kept by the Metro has about 180 transportation cards still awaiting their owners to take them back, as well as 30 wallets, 29 backpacks and shoulder bags, 25 debit cards and credit cards, 13 mobile phones, 11 umbrellas, eight laptops, eight Chinese national ID cards and one passport.

The online lost and found service is available only in Chinese, and the company said it isn't currently planning to add an English version.

Shanghai’s Metro network, with 617 kilometers of track, is the world's largest city system. An estimated 3.4 billion passengers used the system in Shanghai last year.

So the current list of 500 or so items seems minuscule by comparison.

Clues from lost items

In searching for reported lost items, the Metro company and the network's police often work together.

Shanghai Metro police said they check lost items for any clues and try to contact the owners as quickly as possible. Many lost business licenses, labor contracts, passports, mobile phones and laptops are returned speedily as a result.

Feng Linghang, a police officer from Yishan Road Station Police Station which covers 28 Metro stations, said, “for business licenses, we will search the contact information online or call the yellow page service if no information is readily available. For mobile phones, we will call a recent contact of the phone owner with the phone and ask him or her to contact the owner; for laptops, we will send an e-mail to the owner if the laptop has a mailbox and doesn’t require passwords.”

For passports belonging to foreigners, they usually contact their police colleagues administrating the area where the foreigner lives for help. Feng said a passport of a Japanese expatriate lost at Zhongshan Park station was returned to its owner this way in May.

Surveillance cameras at Metro stations are also used to find clues about the lost items.

“Once we found a lost mobile phone at Zhongshan Park Station, and through surveillance cameras we spotted the owner of the phone wearing a uniform of a restaurant,” Feng said. “Through the restaurant, we got into contact with the owner.”

Sometimes the police will go the extra mile to reach the owners of lost items.

On the evening of September 26, staff at Xinzhuang Station on Line 1 found a laptop in an empty train and handed it over to the police at Xujiahui Station Police Station. Since the only clue they had was the user name to the desktop which was in pinyin, the police combed through household registration data with it and made over 20 phone calls till they finally traced the owner.

Theft or misappropriation

Sometimes something lost by a passenger is picked up and taken away from the Metro system by another passenger.

Such was a case on the evening of October 11 when a passenger lost his backpack with a laptop inside on a train at Songjiang Sports Center Station on Line 9. The man who took the backpack away with him, surnamed Fan, was caught by Metro police at Huamu Road Station on Line 7 on the morning of October 13.

Police said Fan was given only an admonition because he admitted he took the laptop but handed it in later, and the case was considered to be a misappropriation of another person’s property.

But in a case where someone takes away another person’s belongings while that person is asleep, it could be considered as theft and the suspect could face severe punishment, police said.

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