MTA Sees Surge of Strange Subway Lost and Found Items Over Holiday Season

Are you missing your prosthetic leg? If so, the New York City MTA might have it at its lost and found office. This year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority garnered about 26,000 lost items. Workers say that the holiday season is when people turn in the most amount of lost items, probably due to the influx of tourists and the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays. (Or, just New Yorkers feeling unusually charitable.) The majority of lost objects are standard — wallets, glasses, umbrellas, and phones — but some are much more bizarre.

"We get false teeth almost every week," said William Bonner, supervisor of the lost and found office. "How do you lose your teeth?" What's even more puzzling is why and how people turn in these types of lost items.

People also leave a staggering amount of bicycles on the trains, along with hundreds of coats. Surprisingly, the MTA says it has a 60 percent return rate. Unclaimed items like electronics are sold to companies or put up on the MTA's auction site.

"We are the most successful lost and found in the country and possibly the world," says Melissa Gissentanner, a lost-and-found office manager.

Equal parts charming (have you ever ridden on the MTA's annual holiday Vintage Train?) and revolting, the New York City subway has been the infamous home of rats and cockroach colonies; the cutest subway kittens ever; a huge refrigerator filled with empty Arizona Iced Tea bottles; underground break-dancers shouting "EXCUSE ME LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;" and little kids selling candy for their "basketball teams."

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The New York City subway was founded in 1904 and serves about 2 billion people each year; if laid out in a straight line, its tracks would run from New York to Chicago, according to the MTA. And if you've conquered the haphazard NYC subway system, you can do pretty much anything else you set your mind to.

There is even an entire reddit thread devoted to weird experiences in the subway. (Be forewarned: they are all pretty gruesome and most involve bodily fluids in some way or another.) One reddit commenter, boberino222, wrote: "Suitcase open with a couple 10-15 foot long snakes. One guy had a snake draped around his shoulders and there was a tip bucket in the middle of the car."

But perhaps the strangest thing ever left on the subway? A dead shark on the N train — whom someone outfitted with NYC staples like a Metro Card, cigarette, and Red Bull can. First thought to be a Shark Week promotion, it was later revealed that it was caught by a family at Coney Island, got unintentionally passed around, and was eventually left on the subway for the whole city to enjoy.

But New York City isn't the only place that's attracted some colorful subway characters.

In Boston, a 3-foot-long boa constrictor slithered out of its owner's view while she was riding the Red Line. Thankfully, officials found the snake one month later.

Last year, a man left a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin on the train in Bern, Switzerland. Luckily, the violin — one of only about 600 in the world — was located two days later.

And London's Underground is no stranger to strange lost items. The Tube deserves its own list of the most bizarre things found on its trains:

  • False teeth (like New York)
  • A puffer fish
  • Jar of bull sperm
  • A park bench
  • Lawn mower
  • Two human skulls in a bag
  • A stuffed fox

And adorably (even though this doesn't really count as being "lost"), a Shetland pony took a ride on Berlin's S-Bahn last winter. Ponies get cold, too!

Image: b_sanch