Lost an IPod or Wallet? Look for It Online
By ANDREW RYAN, Associated Press Writer
Maureen Silliman felt her empty pocket and gulped: Her new $300 iPod
must have bounced out as she ran to catch a train. While she sobbed,
her boyfriend suggested a message on the lost-and-found section of
Craigslist, an online bazaar of classified ads.
"No," the 24-year-old Silliman said. "Nobody would ever turn in an
Her boyfriend posted the message anyway. Within 24 hours, Silliman's
iPod was back.
In an increasingly cynical world, there are still places where people
try to do the right thing. Everyday on Internet message boards, honest
folks post notes about valuables they found: cash, bank cards, diamond
bracelets, engagement rings, wedding bands, digital cameras, and even
a cockatoo valued at $1,200.
In turn, when there is no place left to look for something missing,
the desperate sometimes take the longest of longshots and look online
Occasionally, it works for both sides. People such as Silliman get
back their iPod, still loaded with Radio Head and Broken Social Scene.
The impulse to be honest doesn't surprise Lawrence M. Hinman, the
director of The Values Institute at the University of San Diego.
"I think we perceive ourselves as being much worse than we actually
are," Hinman said. "There are people who live lives of quiet honesty."
Take Monique Peddle, 48, in Hollywood, Fla., who posted a note online
when she found a diamond studded gold bracelet that she could have
just as easily slipped quietly in her pocket. Or Blake Facente, 30,
who also turned to Craigslist when he discovered a Dell Inspiron
laptop leaning against his building in San Francisco.
The same for Agnes Satoorian, 27, who climbed into a cab in Boston
last month and found a pricey digital camera that another rider had
"I know that pain," said Satoorian, who had recently lost her own
camera loaded with sentimental pictures. "I decided I would try to
make it right for someone."
Craig Newmark, the namesake and founder of Craigslist, said that the
company added the lost-and-found message board in March 2003 after
they noticed a proliferation of people looking for things that they
"The culture of trust is key, and the fact is that we work really hard
at that," said Newmark, 53, who now has Web sites in 190 cities that
boast more than 10 million users a month.
That means everyday there are new lost-and-found posts. Like the
drawer in a school secretary's office where missing scarves wait to be
claimed, the message boards accumulate a disparate collection of
Some are outlandish.
The three teeth -- including a molar with a filing that needed
replacing -- pick up in downtown Honolulu. The $100 bill found on a
sidewalk on the Las Vegas strip. The man in Copenhagen who lost his
ex-wife. Or the New Yorker who misplaced her clean-shaven cowboy and
implored: "If found please send him to Queens."
In the lost column in Dublin, Ireland, a post under the heading, "$1
Million US reward," has a link to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted poster for
Boston fugitive mobster James "Whitey" Bulger.
"I just want him caught," said the post's author, reached through
e-mail, who declined to elaborate or give his name.
Other posts are authentic, and even touching.
The 39-year-old woman in Frankfurt, Germany, looking for her birth
mother (Bridgitte Siglinde Stolba). The Homestead, Fla., mother
searching for a lost dog named Sparky that detects her 17-year-old
epileptic son's seizures and barks for help. The 1-carat diamond
engagement ring that slipped off a woman's finger in the hills outside
Success of the Lost and Found is difficult to measure. Craigslist does
not track its sites, and the free posting are only valid for 30 days.
But as stories about triumphs like Silliman's iPod circulate, more
people keep playing the odds.
Last Fourth of July, scuba diver Stephen Klink found a solid platinum
men's wedding band buried in sand beneath 30 feet of water off Cape
Cod. Klink, 36, recently posted a note on the Boston-area Craigslist.
"It's a long shot, but I figured it's worth a try," Klink said from
his home in Hillsdale, N.J. "Some married guy somewhere is getting
whopped on because he lost his wedding ring."
On the Net:
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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