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How to Find It
BY ANYA SONDERS

Imagine someone forgetting a pet cat in a cab, or a prosthetic hand, or an engagement ring! Add to this cell phones, wallets, passports, bags, clothing and golf clubs. These are just some of the belongings that are turned in to the NYPD every day by any of the 14,000 medallion cabs, according to P.O. Harley Polikoff of the 17th Precinct. He said a woman from New Jersey telephoned about losing her engagement ring, accurately described it, and it was successfully reclaimed. The prosthetic hand was found at the Central Park Precinct. No news on the cat.

How does one retrieve property left in NYC taxis? The Taxi & Limousine Commission (302-8294), open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., has a recorded menu to help passengers if they know the medallion number or the driver's name.

Otherwise, to expedite the recovery of lost items, the Taxi & Limousine Commission and the Police Department have selected eight precincts in the five boroughs where lost property can be vouchered for safekeeping. For Manhattan the locations are the 17th Precinct, located at 167 East 51st Street (826-3211) and the Central Park Precinct at the 86th Street transverse (570-4820). The full telephone message lists the precincts in other boroughs.

Lost Luggage
When luggage is left in the trunk of a cab it is usually because a passenger forgets it or the cabbie pulls off before the passenger has an opportunity to retrieve his or her belongings. Items left in taxi trunks may not be found until the trunk is opened again for the use of another passenger. The discovery may even be made by a subsequent driver. If luggage is discovered at the end of a shift, the driver can take it to the nearest of the eight designated precincts.

Turning In Property
A cabdriver turning in property is given a receipt and the property is listed on a voucher indicating that it is now in police department custody. After the property is listed on an index sheet in the "property only book" it is sealed in a bag. Wallets are handled in the same way but any money found in them is deposited separately in bank accounts. The lost property is held temporarily in the property office of the precinct.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Evidence Property Control Specialist (EPCS) Frank Monasterio at the 17th Precinct takes small merchandise to the Manhattan property Clerk at One Police Plaza. He takes larger items to Pearson Place in Queens on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All items are catalogued.

Callers who can identify lost items are given the voucher number and told where to go to collect the property. Cell phones are the most commonly lost items. Their owners are asked to give the brand name and serial number. If there is a match, and the item is` marked Manhattan Property Office, the caller is given a voucher number and instructed to go to One Police Plaza. P.O. Robert Dinon of the 17th Precinct says most of the cell phones turned in by taxi drivers are recovered by their owners.

Recently it was estimated that there are between 80-100 calls a tour concerning property left in taxis. Every call, however insignificant, takes time, be it a missing red shoe or a black shawl or a leather jacket.
Captain Kevin Ward, 17th Precinct commanding officer, is in the process of setting up a second line to take the calls for lost and found on voice mail. These calls will be reviewed and returned.

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