Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Car Searcher


Not Many Valuables Lost on Trains Considering the Amount of Travel.

At the terminal stations of all railroads the cars of incoming trains are searched for things left by passengers. The methods may vary in detail, but they are substantially alike.

At the Pennsylvania station in Jersey City there are three searchers, two working by day and one at night. Of the day men, one searches the through trains and the other the way trains. The moment the train has halted in the station the searcher stops aboard the rear platform of the last car and works toward the front. He walks straight ahead, following the receding wave of passengers, but though he walks right along nothing escapes his practiced eye. Whatever he finds he takes to the bureau of information. There a record is made of the thing found, containing a description of it, the marks, if any, and the train upon which it was found. Things of little value are kept awaiting the owner's claim for six months. Things of considerable value are kept a year or more. Things finally unclaimed are given back to the searcher, who is, however, called upon to make them good should they be claimed subsequently.

While in the course of a year many things are found in the cars, their number compared with the great number of travelers is small, and as a matter of fact they are generally of small value, usually umbrellas, overshoes and packages of one sort or another. People seem generally to hang on to really valuable things. At the same time there are found in the cars occasionally watches, diamonds, pocketbooks (usually containing small amounts), musical instruments and personal property of almost every possible description.

Valuable things are usually claimed pretty promptly. The loser sometimes goes from the train to a steamer for Europe or on a longer journey. Various circumstances sometimes prevent the prompt claiming of valuables. Claims are sometimes made after the lapse of months or perhaps a year or more. Persons claiming property are required to describe it, with its marks, and to tell upon what train they lost it. When property remaining unclaimed has about it evidences of its ownership, the company endeavors to restore it to its owner.

With the great increase of travel there is an increase in the number of the things found in the cars, but proportionately the number of things so found is not greater than formerly. In this respect the people do not appear to have undergone any change. They are just about as forgetful as they were — no more, no less. — New York Sun.

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