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Taxi Lost 'n' Found: How to Get Back Something Left in an NYC Cab

June 15, 2018 - by Merrill Lee Girardeau
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You’ve hopped out of a taxi, when you realize you left your phone in the cab. Follow these steps to get your phone, bag, or other lost items back.

Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Take Security Measures

NYC taxi

Flickr/Jaysin Trevino

It’s almost too obvious to point out, but if you lost something as important as a phone, computer, or wallet, it’s crucial to act quickly and ensure that no one can steal your item or exploit your information. Be sure to cancel any credit cards or debit cards you left in your wallet. 

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 up to you if you want to chase the cab—or worse, someone who stole your device from the cab—around New York City. If you take this approach, use the buddy system for safety’s sake. It’ll also make for a better story in the long run! 

Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Find the Cab’s Medallion Number

The medallion number is the unique alphanumeric code given to a specific taxi cab.  

If your cab driver gave you a receipt, look for the cab’s medallion number there. Use this number to look up the cab’s management company, a service available on 311. Call the company and, after giving the medallion number, provide as many details about the cab, driver, and your item as you can.

If you didn’t receive a receipt but you used a card to pay for the cab, look on your bank account or credit card statement online as soon as possible. Your bank or credit card company might have registered the taxi’s medallion number when you swiped your card. If your account online is like ours, the transaction will look like this: “NYCTAXIAB123.” AB123 is the medallion number for the 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, can also help you get your property back. Call (the number is, fittingly, 3-1-1), or use this form to file a report on your lost item.

Treat this like you’re a prime suspect on Law & Order: try to remember every detail of your cab ride so the city can help find your item more easily. 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 drop-off and pick-up, etc.

Filing with 311 can feel like a lost cause, but don’t underestimate the folks who work there. We recently left a leather jacket in a cab, and despite not knowing the medallion number, filing the 311 report led the city to find the management company and, eventually, we got the jacket back!

Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Contact Lost & Found Offices

 

While you wait for 311 to get 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 realized you left something when you exited the cab and turned it in where he or she last saw you.

And as filmmaker Casey Neistat learned when he left $13,000 worth of equipment in a taxi, you should also contact the Lost Property Police Precinct where you were dropped off, as the driver might’ve turned in your items there.

Lost Items in NYC Taxis: Uber, Lyft, & Other Car Companies

If you left your item in an Uber, you can use the app to call the driver and arrange to have your item returned. You can also recover a lost phone from an Uber, provided you can use a friend’s phone to contact the driver. Here are detailed instructions.

Ride-sharing services like Lyft and Via, as well as other car companies, have in-app methods of contacting drivers, as well as customer service lines, to help you get your item back where it belongs.

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