Finders, Keepers

MT
Gloomy basement corridors beneath even the most brightly remodeled train stations of Moscow still channel the ambiance of an early 1990s movie, where shady dealers whisper words like valyuta, chelnok and barter. But if you lose something at the station or on the train, this is where your item may end up.

Trains
Train stations have the most convoluted lost-and-found system, and employees themselves acknowledge that it's not working very well. "We don't get any items lost in elektrichkas, since there is nobody to pick them up," said a stern attendant at Yaroslavsky Station. "We only take things that are unclaimed from the left-luggage. And we don't accept documents at all, they go to the police."

Metro
If you lose something in a metro train, station or in the station surroundings, and it happens to be picked up by a metro employee, it goes to the metro lost-and-found at the Universitet station. The small room is full of mostly sports bags.

"They all have the same stuff in them: work clothes, dirty dishes, and bed sheets, the belongings of migrant workers," said the lost-and-found office attendant, Alexandra Monakova.

A man came in to describe a saxophone he had left on the train at Shchyolkovskaya metro station. Monakova spoke to him through a tiny prison door-like window, and then opened the door to give the instrument to him.

"There used to be more items in this room, and now I think people just steal things when they find them," she said. "I get a lot of reporters here though, one time they brought me a rat and filmed the scene with a hidden camera. But we don't accept animals!"

Items are brought in after they go through a security check, then they get a number tag and a page-long description in a binder. After three months, they are moved from the lost-and-found to be sold or thrown away.


MARIA ANTONOVA / MT
The Moscow metro service's lost-and-found office is mostly full of sports bags.
Buses, Trams, Trolleybuses
Moscow Public Transit has not had an organized lost-and-found since at least 10 years ago, a Mosgortrans receptionist said. "If the driver finds something that a passenger forgot, one of two things happens: if it's the end of the work day, he takes it to the transport depot, and if he keeps working, he leaves it with the traffic operator at the end of his line."

If you lost something in a Moscow bus, trolley, or tram, you can try calling Mosgortrans, but you need to remember the route number.

Airports
Airports also have quite a convoluted system for gathering lost items. Things lost on the territory of Domodedovo or in a plane on any domestic flight go to the domestic flight unclaimed cargo office. Items left in the customs zone or on international flights are stored separately. Sheremetyevo Airport has an unclaimed luggage office as well but, as its representative said over the phone, items that have been left on any arriving plane should be claimed by calling the relevant airline.

Lost Documents
All lost identification documents that are found anywhere in Moscow and handed in to the police eventually end up at the documents lost-and-found office of Moscow's Main Directorate of Internal Affairs, or GUVD, according to the representative who answered the office's phone. GUVD also keeps an online lost-and-found list on its main web site, but unfortunately it does not seem to be frequently updated. Either way, some personnel acknowledge that documents are rarely returned. "People just keep them for themselves," said an attendant of the Leningradsky Station lost-and-found office.

On the web
Additionally, there are a number of web sites that provide virtual lost-and-found services.

"The Internet can improve the standard lost-and-found system even in a large city like Moscow," said Nikolai Trussevits of Slando.ru, a popular online bulletin board created in 2006 that gets a million hits a month and has a popular lost-and-found section.

"Although Moscow is a huge city, we get thank-you letters every week from those who managed to find their lost item through our service."

Unlike the metro, the web site has no restriction for live animals. "There was a posting last month about a lost horse," Trussevits said.

Contacts



Moscow Main Directorate of Internal Affairs (GUVD), 694-9957, www.petrovka38.ru/rus/find/

Moscow Metro, 622-20-85, M. Universitet. Exit in the middle

of the platform, and look for the "lost things storage" on the second floor of the police room across from the ticket booth.

MosGorTrans, 951-66-53.

Domodedovo Airport, 504-0258 for items lost on domestic flights or on airport territory; 504-0285 for items lost on international

flights or in the customs zone.

Sheremetyevo Airport, 578-1133.

Slando.ru, http://community.slando.ru/moscow/282_1.html

Sotovik.ru, a general mobile phones web site, includes

a frequently updated "lost mobile phones" section, which you can search by brand and model: www.sotovik.ru/lost/