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Lost Property Department.

From a correspondent of the “ Inverness Courier ” wo glean the following curious facts. He says :—Most Londoners have heard of the Lost Property Department at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in Scotland Yard, but very few are aware of the magnitude of the transactions carried on there ; and the report recently published in one of the daily newspapers of a visit to this museum of forgetfulness must have been a startling revelation even to the most ardent believer in the vastness of the Great City. It seems that on an average one hundred articles are received every day from cabmen whose honesty is sufficiently active to induce them to comply with that stipulation in their license which requires them to convey to the nearest police station any stray goods or chattels found in their vehicles. Not that that virtue is left to be altogether it own reward; for if the property be claimed, the owner has to pay two shillings and sixpence or three shillings in the pound, which is handed over to the law-abiding coachman ; and if no satisfactory application be made within three months cabby becomes the legitimate possessor of the “ treasure-trove. ” It is said that the men, as a rule, prefer to receive the reward rather than the article itself. And certainly when it came to bo the fourth umbrella or walking-stick, or the third pair of spectacles, a smart young cabman might be excused for murmuring at the monotony of chance. But when it is a case of five hundred pounds in bank notes, six hundred pounds’ worth of watches, four hundred and seventy-six American gold eagles, or four thousand

pounds in valuable securities, the requisite three months must seem a very long time to wait for a careless owner to put in an appearance. If the value of the property exceeds ten pounds, the reward takes the shape of a lump sum fixed by the Commissioners of Police, in accordance with ihe particular circumstances of the case, and in a few instances ranging as high as one hundred pounds. Within the last twelve months, cabmen who are now plying for liire, have received amounts in this way of twenty-five, fifty, and one hundred pounds. Some of the stories of forgetfulness thus brought to light are as curious as they are amusing. A hairdresser leaves behind him a bag containing all the materials of a modern coiffure and all the implements of his craft. A merchant forgets his cheque book, a traveller his portmanteau, an invalid his box of pills, an actress her diamonds. Umbrellas,, spectacles, opera-glasses, walking-sticks, muffs, pipes, even boots, all find their way to the Lost Property Department. Little wonder is it then that the total value of the “ flotsam and jetsam ” of this great sea of traffic was estimated last year to amount to fourteen thousand pounds.

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Lost Property Department. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 17, 4 November 1879

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