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Behind the scenes at Metra

The things that end up in Lost and Found

(March 16, 2017) - 

Lose something on the train? Maybe it’s in one of our Lost and Found offices.

 

Lots of phones, but also urns, prosthetics and other unusual items

Your lost iPhone could be collecting dust at Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Your forgotten umbrella? It might be at Millennium Station.

And the urn, dentures or prosthetic leg you left behind? Have you checked Chicago Union Station?

Items lost on the train, platform or other railroad property land in the Lost and Found offices at four of Metra’s downtown Chicago stations. Look for items you might have lost in the office in the station where your line terminates. For instance, BNSF riders will find their items at Union Station. Union Pacific riders will need to visit Ogilvie.

At Union Station, the job of managing the overstuffed closet of other people’s belongings falls to Mike Flowers, a 20-year employee of Metra who currently serves as the district manager for the Milwaukee District.

“We’ve got bicycle helmets, car seats, a lot of umbrellas, a lot of backpacks, luggage. We get a little bit of everything,” Flowers said, pointing around a small area with floor to ceiling shelves of misplaced goods. “We do get a lot of cell phones and a lot of wallets that get turned in here.”

Flowers usually sees more than 60 cellphones, 40 umbrellas, and dozens of sets of car keys a month.

A few blocks north, at the lost and found in Ogilvie, general clerk Deloris Crawford answers a phone call from a man eager to find a pair of sunglasses he dropped on a train. To his dismay, they’re not among the pairs sitting near Crawford’s desk.

“Don’t give up because they still might come in,” she says.

She gives the same advice to a couple more callers, whose items might be in the twice weekly shipment of lost items that come in from train crews.

Her advice is simple: “You have to be persistent and patient.”

It can take between one and three days for an item to make it to the lost and found office. Once it’s there, employees attempt to contact the owner. However, the responsibility to retrieve the item often falls onto the rider because of a lack of contact information on the item. Or, in the case of electronic devices, passwords prevent staff from accessing the device.

There are some ways riders can help their chances of being reunited with an item in the off-chance they leave something behind.

“One tip I might give pertains to monthly tickets,” Flowers said. “As we all know, they’re not cheap. Put a phone number on the back so that when we get them, we can call you.”

Most items are kept for 30 to 60 days before they are turned over to long-term storage or donated to local charities. Some items that seem to have more sentimental value might last a little longer.

“I’m a family guy, so I realize the importance of personal things like photos,” Flowers said. “I’ll go the extra mile every time to get those items back to the owner.”

Watch a video about the Lost and Found office at Union Station, Metra's busiest facility.

 

Metra’s Lost and Found Offices

Union Station: Call 312-322-4269 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or visit Window 10 between 6:15 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Ogilvie Transportation Center: Call 312-496-4751 or visit the office adjacent to the Metra Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Millennium Station: Call 312-322-7819 or visit the office near the upper level doors, across from the information booth from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

LaSalle Street Station: Call 312-322-8957 or visit the office through the double doors along the east wall of the waiting room seven days a week from 6:45 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. 

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