Photo for illustrative purposes only. In a recent case, a Saudi tourist was deeply thankful when his lost wallet was returned to him at his home after he forgot it at Sharjah International Airport. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sharjah: It’s not really lost until Sharjah Police can’t find it. So says the Lost and Found office of the police which is tasked with hunting down personal items misplaced throughout the emirate on a daily basis by residents and tourists alike.

In a recent case, a Saudi tourist was deeply thankful when his lost wallet was returned to him at his home after he forgot it at Sharjah International Airport.

Last year, the lion’s share of missing items were 4,934 official documents as compared to 6,860 missing official documents reported this year.

Many of these items were returned to their owners.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Major Ahmad Juma Al Yaha’i, Director of Criminal and Investigation branch at Wasit Police station, said officers remain on the lookout for misplaced items.

There is a good “return for the investment”, he said. Last year, police received 9,151 reports of lost items compared to 8,001 items reported to date this year.

“The most commonly lost items include official documents, mobile phones, laptop, wallets, jewellery, sunglasses, foreign currency ,coins, special seals for companies ,car keys -all kinds ,Cash and even animals.” The biggest amount of cash found was Dh70,000.

Major Ahmad Juma Al Yaha’i

When documents are lost

When the office receives lost official documents, it contacts owner when it knows their whereabouts to notify them of their recovered property, he said.

They are invited to report to the office to collect their items or they are forwarded to the issuing authority whether they are government institutions, private agencies or embassies, he said.

The office, Major Al Yaha’i said, spares no effort to reach the owners of lost items, even if they are outside the country, especially for high-ticket items such as cell phones, watches, cameras, bags etc. If the person is not located they are kept until the time for legal action comes.

If the person has left the country, he said: “We send him/her the item by mail after verifying his/her identity. We dedicate a team to try to find him/her immediately. Unfortunately, some people who lose their belongings don’t inform the authority.”

Major Al Yaha’i said: “We check with other police departments across the UAE to ensure there are no lost item reports or if there are criminal cases involving these items.”

“The lost items which remain unclaimed for six months will be auctioned. All the revenues [including lost cash] go to the government treasury.”

However, if the owner claims the item after it’s auctioned, he may still receive the revenue from the sold item. While concerning documents such as passport, if no one claims within six months, the department sends it to the consulate of that country. If it’s a UAE passport, police send it to the immigration department.

Lost items found

In one incident, a man was talking in his mobile phone and he withdrew cash from ATM he put the cash over the machine while taking out his bank card, he took his card and left the place without taking his money, later another man came to withdrew money from same ATM, he spotted the cash over the machine.

He took the cash to police station and told them and about the incident.”

Then police contacted the bank to check CCTV which showed the man was talking in his mobile phone and forget his money over the machine.

Police located the man through his data and contacted him… Police asked the man about the incident and all the details and amount of the cash were verified, as well as the man received withdrawal SMS from bank the police handed over the cash to its owner.

It’s a crime not to report lost item
It’s a crime not to report lost item and it can land the person in legal trouble.

It is considered a misdemeanour and leads to imprisonment and a fine according to UAE law.

Case study

In one incident, an Asian man worked in used car shop. They brought cars from outside the country for the purpose of selling them. One day he found a gold crescent in a car they had imported from outside the country. He took it without informing owner of the shop and sold it in one gold shop …

“The owner of the gold shop had suspected the man as he is a Muslim …why he was sold a gold crescent which belonged to a Christian? So he had suspected there was a crime behind this action. He reported the issue to police and police took the man.”

“The man was kept in police custody for two weeks until they made sure there was no criminal action behind this purchase. No murder reported as well as no theft reported …Then he was released. Police advised the man to report anything he found to authorities to avoid legal action.”

When a lost item is found, and reported to police, a team will move to the site. When a member of the public informs police by phone, the team will move to the site to collect evidence, take photographs and lift fingerprints – before action is taken.

The data of the found item is included in the electronic criminal system. It is possible to report in another emirate — the criminal system has a special record of found items, which is deposited in a safe designated by the officer on duty.

How to report a lost item

“There are many ways to locate your lost items. You can visit the nearest police station, you can use the Ministry of Interior app or website, or you can call Police toll-free number 901,” said Major Al Yaha’i.

Sharjah Police have launched a new initiative to deliver lost items to the doorstep of owners. The service was launched in cooperation with Osoul Smart Applications Company (Buraq), with the aim of enabling customers to receive their lost items while at their residence, without having to step out to collect them.

The service has been completed in all police Stations. As many as 107 items had been handed back to their owners in the past six months.