According to a new survey of London taxi drivers, an average of 10,000 mobile phones are left behind by customers every single month. If that total is not staggeringly high enough, you can top it up with another 1000 iPods and memory sticks if you like. December is the worse month for losing a mobile phone in a taxi though, most likely down to people having their hands full of bags of Xmas shopping as they rush to jump out.
Steve McMenara, a spokesperson for TAXI, which is a magazine published by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: "It’s a known fact that this is the worst time of year for forgetting `property’ at the back of cabs, but especially mobile phones and laptops as they slip onto the floor or get forgotten on the seats as passengers rush onto their next destination with their hands full. More people travel into London to buy their Xmas presents during this period who are not regular cab users, they hop a cab to get back to their train stations – and it’s always about an hour later we get a panicked call on their mobile phones asking for them to be returned."
Sean Glynn from encryption specialists Credant Technologies which carried out the taxi survey adds: "Back in the good old days when a Window was something you looked out of, and a Mac was something you wore in the rain, it used to be small items like brollies and briefcases stuffed full of boring office papers. Now it’s laptops, smartphone’s and thumb drives, all chock-full of valuable information to an identity thief. If you don’t want to worry about the consequences of losing your mobile – with all those embarrassing text messages and pictures - or laptop with valuable personal and company information – then protect that data using encryption and/or passwords. The technology is available, so why not use it?"
That said, the survey also reveals that a licensed London taxi, of the 'black cab' variety, is one of the safest places you can lose a mobile phone in the UK. Apparently some 80% of the cabbies which took part said that owners were reunited with phones after the driver found them and handed them into the lost property service. Lose a mobile phone in the back of a New York taxi and, a parallel survey suggests, the chance of you getting it back drops to 66%. It's not all good news for Londoners though, a similar survey three years ago reported that you had a 96% chance of getting your lost property back, so it looks like cabbies are getting less honest as the recession bites.
Amongst the more interesting things left in the back of London taxis during the last year have been: a baby, a cat, 2 dogs, a number of toilet seats, a brace of pheasants plus a sawn off shotgun and even some pork chops and plenty of false teeth.