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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 4, 2019 7 months ago

Siesta Key Beach sees high rate of return for lost items

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In the peak season for things that go missing, parks staff wants to get your stuff back to you.
by: Samantha Chaney Staff Writer

What’s lost might not always be found, but visitors can rest assured that what’s lost on Siesta Key Beach is almost always not only found, but returned. In fact, Siesta Beach Manager Cindy Turney says there is an approximate 90% rate of success when it comes to returning lost items on Siesta Key.

“We’ve been pretty successful, most everything is returned,” Turney said. “What happens is most people seek us out, but the ones that don’t, we attempt to call them. If we find something in a wallet like a credit card, we also attempt to call the company and say, ‘Hey can you let your customer know we have their wallet?’”

According to Turney, February through April is the peak season for lost stuff, late March being the pinnacle. 

Of course, the items lost on Siesta Key are the sort that one would typically expect. In specific, Turney says keys and cell phones are the most common.

But what the lost and found lacks in whimsey it makes up for in occasional intrigue. 

“One of our employees who worked here a few years ago said he’d found somebody’s false teeth,” Turney said. “And [the owner] happened to be looking for them when we had them.”

So, how exactly do these items turn up once they’re lost?

“Sometimes people come to us,” said Kenneth Hall, a parking attendant. “We get a lot of people who are honest and try to return stuff.”

“Most items are turned in either to this office, concession, to our beach ambassadors or our lifeguards,” Turney said. “We’re out here at 6 a.m. and we start finding things when we clean the beach.”

Wallets and cash typically get turned over to the Sheriff’s Office quickly. Otherwise, from cameras to glasses to towels, a call is often all that’s needed to be reunited.

“A good place to start would be the contact center; that’s a good place for folks to start if they did misplace something,” county spokesman Drew Winchester said. “That would get them in touch easily with parks staff, and it’s kind of a one-stop shop from there.”

Beachgoer beware, though: If you realize you need to reach out and search for your belongings, a clock is running.

If an item hasn’t found its way to its owner fairly promptly, the Siesta Key Beach staff will turn those items over to the Sarasota County Facilities Maintenance staff, who then keeps those belongings for 90 days.

“But we do hold them for a certain amount of time and hope to get them back to their owners,” Turney said, though she also stressed that there was no concrete window of time during which they would hold onto items; it simply varies by the item.

Of course, at the end of the day, honesty is the policy that the Siesta Key Beach employees try their best to adhere to with their lost-and-hopefully-found items.

“We try to be honest and make sure that people get with the lost and found because keys and cell phones are important to the public,” Hall said. “And we want to make sure they get home safely, and that their identity is taken care of. It’s like we’re losing these items ourselves — that’s the mindset.”

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