Lost property deparments aren’t just for umbrellas anymore. Taxi companies across the world report that mobile phones, PDAs, Pocket PCs and laptops are being mistakenly left in the back seats of taxis by thousands of careless customers.
And it's a global problem. About 900 drivers for cab companies in Chicago, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Stockholm and Sydney reported a deluge of discarded gadgets in their taxis over a recent six-month period.
In Chicago, more than 85,000 phones were found in taxis – about four for every taxi in the Windy City. A little more than half of those were reunited with their owners – in almost all cases by the drivers, says Pointsec Mobile Technologies, which conducted the survey.
While forgotten phones form the base of the mountain of abandoned electronics, 21,000 PDAs and Pocket PCs were also found in Chicago cabs, and about 14,000 of them were eventually returned.
Passengers even left about 4500 notebooks behind. Not surprisingly, these expensive devices were reclaimed at the highest rate – about 80 percent.
Of course, many items get left in cabs. Surveyed drivers reported pets, undergarments, knives and luggage among the mislaid items. London taxi drivers also turned in a harp, a throne, more than £80,000 in diamonds and a baby.
As electronic devices become more sophisticated and improve their capacity to hold large stashes of personal information, having them – and your precious data – fall into strange hands can be scary.
You can do several things to protect yourself against the loss of a mobile device.
First, evaluate how much personal information you keep on your device and how costly it would be if that information fell into the hands of a criminal. If that cost is higher than the cost of the electronic gear, you should consider protecting it. Methods include:
And here are some tips for travelling by taxi with electronic gear:
If you do leave an item, call both the cab company and (if possible) the device itself. Arrange with the driver to have it delivered to you or to your hotel. And don't forget to tip!