How many honest finders would return a found item?

Honest findersA remark we often hear is that many finders would return a keychain, but would keep a phone or other valuables. We started to investigate this ourselves, but after a few online searches, we came across some remarkable findings.

Some figures

A website that offers a typical picture is the onethat’s used by almost half of Dutch municipalities to publish their found items (you’ll find similar websites in other countries). At the time of publishing, 4167 keychains are on this site waiting for their owners to claim them. But not just keychains. For example, 1828 pieces of jewellery are registered, including gold and silver bracelets, gold rings (even with diamonds) and 14 expensive Rolex and Breitling watches. Moreover, 1874 mobile phones (Reader’s Digest has proven that 68% is returned, if registered) and MP3 players and 237 cameras are waiting for their rightful owners. This is only the tip of the iceberg! These are only items for which the finder has gone to the trouble to take them to the police or public building, and cover only half the population of the Netherlands. They account for only a fraction of the found items where the finders couldn’t be bothered to report them.
(Related: 4 tips to recover your lost telephone)

Expensive ring returnedSurprising Paris

Even more remarkable is the lost & found service in Paris. A while ago, an honest finder returned a diamond ring valued at 22000 euros. After one year, the owner still hadn’t succeeded in contacting this service, so the ring became the property of the finder. If it had been engraved with a Spotty short code, the finder would have found the owner instead of the other way around, on the same day and with less effort.

Lost and found code

Short code

The office in Paris still has a smartphone of 14000 euros in its storage room. Yearly there are 180000 items brought in, and around 18000 are keychains. Read the entire story here (in French, you may want to use Google Translate), you will also find some surprising pictures.

The problem today

It’s estimated that only 10% of lost items are returned. Why is this figure so low?

  • First, it would involve a lot of effort on the part of the finder. The finder would need to take the item to the police or find a public building. Even an honest finder doesn’t always want to make this extra effort.
  • Secondly, the owner doesn’t know where to look. There are dozens of places where the item might have been handed in (police, public buildings, etc.), just as there are hundreds of websites where people can report found items.

The solution

That’s why Spotty reverses things. Owners no longer need to search for their items. The Spotty sticker or engraving makes it easy and fast for the finder (or lost & found office) to notify the owner (anonymously). This can be done via any computer, or in the case of a smartphone/tablet, even on the spot as soon as the item has been found.

How does it work? Check out the video on our homepage or go to the Frequently Asked Questions.