Did you just leave a taxi and realize you left your phone, laptop, or shopping bag in the cab? Here are the steps to follow to recover your valuables.
Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Take Security Measures
Not to belabor the obvious, but if you lost something as important as a phone, computer, or wallet, it’s vital to act quickly to ensure no one else claims your item or exploits your identity. Make sure to immediately cancel any credit cards or debit cards you left behind.
In addition to calling your lost phone (another duh tip, we know), use digital features like Find My iPhone, Find My Mac, or Find My Device for Androids and PC laptops to track the location of your missing phone, tablet, or computer. It’s your prerogative to chase the cab—or worse, someone who stole your device from the cab—around New York City. But should you decide to do so, use the buddy system for safety’s sake.
Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Find the Cab’s Medallion Number
Medallion numbers are the unique alphanumeric code given to each specific taxi cab.
If your cab driver gave you a receipt, check for the cab’s medallion number there. Then you can use that number to look up the cab’s management company (which is a service available on 311). Call the company, and after giving them the medallion number, provide as many details about the cab, driver, and your missing items as possible.
If you didn’t get a receipt but you used a card to pay for the cab, refer to your bank account or credit card statement online as soon as possible. Your bank or credit card company's app might have registered the taxi’s medallion number when you used your card. If your account online is like ours, the transaction will look like this: “NYCTAXIAB123.” AB123 is the medallion number for your taxi. Search for this taxi’s management company online, and/or use the medallion number to take your next steps (see below).
If you paid with cash and didn’t receive a receipt, there’s still hope! Your next stop is 311.
Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Report to 311
New York’s information service, 311, will also offer assistance in reclaiming your property. Treat this like you’re a prime suspect on Law & Order: try to remember every detail of your cab ride so the city has the most information possible to help you. That includes the color of the cab (yellow or green), any distinguishing characteristics of your driver, the credit or debit card you used, the time and location of your pick up and drop-off and whatever else you can recall.
Filing with 311 can feel futile, but don’t underestimate the folks who work there. We once left a leather jacket in a cab, and despite not knowing the cabbie's medallion number, filing the 311 report led the city to find the management company and, eventually, we got that jacket back!
Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Contact Lost & Found Offices
As you wait for 311 to circle back to you about your report, try contacting the Lost & Found at the location where the taxi dropped you off (even if it’s an airport or train station). Your driver might have found your item after you left and turned it in where he or she last saw you.
Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Uber, Lyft, & Other Car Companies
Did you leave your item in an Uber? You can use the app to call your driver and arrange to have your item returned. You can also recover your lost phone from an Uber, provided you can use a friend’s phone to contact the driver. Here are detailed instructions.