No Losers at lost & found

Aug 27, 2002 8:33 AM

There is a lot going on in a casino besides the everyday gambling. For instance, who are the people that come to visit, where are they from and what are they like?

One key to unlocking these secrets is the articles and personal possessions they oftentimes leave behind.

Several Las Vegas hotels have reported the kinds of articles guests leave behind, either in their room, in restaurants or the casinos. But what happens to these items once they are turned in and reported? How long before someone is entitled to claim them? What are the procedures in retrieving an item?

First, everything starts with the individual who finds the lost item. Hotel employees are required to turn in articles. Once they are logged in, they are kept on record for 30 days, in most cases. If the person who found the item wants to claim it and the owner does not retrieve it within the required time span, the finder can take it.

This is the standard procedure at The Orleans, for instance: Once the person delivers the item to the lost and found, it is logged in and kept for 30 days. If no one claims the item, it is then offered to the finder.

A data specialist at The Orleans says they receive items on a daily, even an hourly basis. Some of the items retrieved include clothing, glasses, cash, wallets, credit cards, and other personal effects. Someone once turned in a pair of dentures!

The people who claim the lost items comprise the entire spectrum of casino patrons: high rollers, locals, world travelers from across the country an as far away as Japan.

On the average, the value of lost and found items amounts to about $200 a week at The Orleans, but it can be much more. There have been cases where people turned in as much as $300 to $500 or more, and eventually got the items back if no one claimed it.

At The Orleans, articles that are not retrieved by their original owner or claimed by the finder, are often donated to charity. For instance, clothing is given to St. Jude’s, and eyeglasses are donated to a local eye company then sent to Third World countries.

Found credit cards are held for only a week and then they are cut up. The Orleans says this is the procedure specified by the credit card companies.

Other resorts such as the Palms have similar procedures. They hold on to the items for 30 days if the item is worth $500 or less. If its value is over $500, then they hold it for 90 days.

The Palms has a form the finder is required to fill out, whether they are an employee or guest in the casino. Items are turned in on a daily basis, and at last count there were about 5,000 items logged in this year.

The items are held in a vault security system and watched very closely. Security makes every effort to call the person believed to be the owner, especially if it is a wallet or casino chips.

Among the frequent items left behind at the Palms are money, chips, clothes, keys, and lighters. Recently, a Security Manager reported that a customer left behind $2,000 in chips! If the chips are not claimed after the waiting period, the chips will be exchanged for cash and given to the finder.

At the Venetian, security director David Shepherd said a guest once left behind an artificial leg, but most lost items range from jewelry to clothing to cash and bathroom articles. He added about 40,000 items have passed through the lost and found in three years.

The Las Vegas economy relies on the revenue of casino gambling by high rollers as well as everyday visitors and locals. They are frequently rewarded for their patronage with comps, promotions, and other marketing tools, all designed to ensure their return.

By making every effort to retrieve and return lost items, it is another way the hotel casinos demonstrate to customers that they care about their business. Unlike the children’s rhyme, Las Vegas casinos don’t want any "losers weepers."