A baby stroller forgotten by a distraught mother, a children’s sled, a pair of glasses, hats, umbrellas, cosmetic products, magnifying glasses, backpacks, handbags, purses, and even jars with pickles - this are just some of the items brought by conscientious citizens to the Lost and Found Office in Sofia. Notorious is the case of a forgotten cello box with the instrument inside which after a lengthy stay at the department was finally sought by its owner.
Originally, the Sofia-based Lost and Found Office was situated in the central city part, next to the Central Sofia Market Hall (Centralni Hali). All the items forgotten in trams, trolleys, buses and on the street were handed over directly there.
“Years ago people came straight here to hand over many forgotten things," says Yordanka Ruseva of the Center for Urban Mobility. "There were different things in the warehouse delivered by people in that period. People knew where the office was situated because it was there on the same spot for many years.”
The situation changed during the renovation of the Central Sofia Market Hall in the 1990s, when the Lost and Found Office had to move to Vazrazhdane 1 Square.
“To see someone find something lost and come to leave it here - we have not had such a case for a long time," Yordanka Ruseva says. “Identity cards are often forgotten because electronic travel cards in public transport are charged using the ID card. We hand them over to the appropriate police departments. We once returned a wallet, but the man had forgotten it here at one of the counters here, and there was a phone from which we called his wife. For a long time, there was a small tape recorder left unsought after here as well as a huge bag full of clothes. But the new office does not have enough space for bulky items.”
Yordanka Ruseva believes that the same amount of items gets lost now but people are obviously impoverished and maybe they are just keeping to themselves what they have found. They have become less conscientious and do not want to be held responsible for what they have found.
“I think that this is still a responsibility for the people, it depends on what was lost and how the person who lost it will react because here we also record the data of the person who delivers the found thing”, explains Yordanka Ruseva. “And since the Personal Data Protection Act came into force, people have become more cautious”.
Still, forgotten things are not irretrievably lost. If found, they are transferred to the offices of the public transportation office and the Sofia subway office. To ease the citizens, 5 years ago, a call center was introduced with the number 0700 13 233 where people can quickly and easily get information about their lost items.
“Nobody comes to us on the spot, they call on the phone and we forward them to the call center. I think its creation was a good idea, because whoever lost an item in the public transport can immediately call and check there whether it was found or handed over to the respective unit. Or just look where the item was forgotten in the street," Yordanka Ruseva from the Urban Mobility Center advises.
English Rossitsa Petcova
Photos: Desislava Semkovska and archive