Photo by Nacho Caravia Nogueras
Lost and found
Cristina Reina in her office
Please note that we don't offer a lost and found service; this article is solely for information purposes. If you have lost an item in Barcelona, we suggest you contact the organisations listed at the end of this article.
The purgatory for lost property found anywhere on the Barcelona metro and bus network, the Montjuïc telefèric (the funicular railway based at Paral·lel metro station) and anything that turns up on the tourist buses is a crowded backroom in the small, but smart, Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona information office in Diagonal metro station (L5 entrance).
All of the items there have arrived within the last seven days. Bags, particularly handbags, spill off shelves. At least a dozen school bags, some stuffed with books, are piled in a box. Two smaller boxes are full of wallets and purses, and another two contain a multicultural array of neatly filed ID cards, driving licences and some passports. There’s also a motorbike helmet balancing on a filing cabinet and, curiously, a single crutch propped up against the wall.
For the last three years, 37-year-old Cristina Reina has worked mornings at the office, which is open to the public on weekdays from 8am to 8pm. It still surprises her, she told Metropolitan, how few people report lost items in comparison to the numerous objects found. “Of the people who call, send e-mails and phone, about 30 to 40 percent recover their property, but a lot of things don’t ever find their owners.”
If the object remains unclaimed after seven days are up, all documents that can be traced to an owner, such as ID cards, passports, cell phones, cameras or jewellery, are sent to the city council office in Plaça Pi i Sunyer, where there is a lost property information point (Oficina de Troballes) on the ground floor. All other items are sent to a private warehouse in Sarrià, where they remain for four weeks. After that they are destroyed.
From 10 to 50 items can arrive in a single day, although it can take up to four days for found property to arrive at the office, as bus depots are closed at weekends. If it has not arrived at the Diagonal office after a week, there’s little chance of recovering a lost item. While objects arrive all year round, day and night, some are more abundant than others at certain times of the year and on certain modes of transport: shopping trolleys (usually empty) are found on buses; school backpacks or books are prevalent in September and October; umbrellas follow a spate of rain and sunglasses are found in summertime, particularly on the tourist buses. An international event at the Fira yields an influx of wallets or purses, about 90 percent of which are stolen on the metro, according to Cristina Reina.
Stranger objects are nearly always found on the buses: prams, walking sticks or, a couple of times, false teeth. A journalist from Cadena Ser left a TV microphone on the metro. Occasionally, items boomerang back to the office, including one item that was found and reclaimed, but returned within the month. “We found a dog once, but that wasn’t brought in here!” said Reina.
Official documentation sent to the council office takes longer to reach its owner. IDs are only returned, by courier, when the owner is registered as apadronat (resident) in the city. International IDs and passports are collected by the appropriate embassy once a month. In the case of mobile phones and cameras, both of which are rarely recovered, the office will not hand over the item without the serial number of the camera or the 17-digit code on the chip in the phone.
Without sufficient information to trace the owner, lost property remains in limbo, inching towards incineration. “We can’t recycle it,” Reina lamented, even though it may be a coveted, expensive item, such as a skateboard, a bicycle and, recently, a pair of skis.
TMB lost and found office: Open 8am-8pm, Mon-Fri; Tel. 93 318 7074; www.tmb.net
Council lost property information point: Plaça Pi i Sunyer, 10; Open 9am-2pm, Mon-Fri; Tel. 010 or 807 117 700 within Barcelona or +34 93 402 70 00 from abroad
Other lost property offices: Taxis: 93 400 5026; Trams: 902 193 275; Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat: 93 205 1515