NEW YORK - In a packed room near track 100, on the lower level of Grand Central Terminal, lost items come to get found. Inside, shelves, boxes and racks hold coats waiting to be worn again and smart phones desperate for screen time. The people who run the lost and found room say this is the time of year when lots of stuff gets left behind.
"There's a lot of discretionary riders," John Daly, the assistant director of Service Quality at Metro-North, said. "They're thinking about where they are going, what they were supposed to bring, not necessarily all the stuff that they've got with them that they need to keep on them."
Throughout the week, Metro-North workers pick up lost items, take them to Grand Central and then place them in locked containers. The items are then picked up and brought to the lost and found room, where the railroad tries to find out who they belong to.
So far this year, an eye-popping 28,000 items have ended up in the lost and found, left behind on Metro-North trains and at stations.
"It's like the ocean: waves of property come in every week," Daly said. "It never ends."
When we visited, we saw hockey sticks, a welder's mask and pairs of crutches. There was also a blender.
Officials say they've seen a lot stranger. On one occasion, they found an urn filled with ashes. On another, they came across a bag filled with 17,000 dollars in cash.
"We've found prosthetic legs before," Daly said. "And like the blades that you'd see on a para-Olympian, which are super expensive, custom fit to that person, they're good to nobody else and you'd think that they'd be tough to lose."
Metro-North hangs onto the items for between 90 days and five years, depending on their value. Belongings that remain unclaimed are eventually sold to a company that handles lost property.
But Metro-North says its goal is to reunite owners with their property. Its rate of return has inched up in recent years and is now at 54 percent.
"These are items that people are desperate to get back and they're so important to them because of what they contain and what they have," Daly said.
If you've lost an item, you're encouraged to go to MTA.Info to fill out a report.