Busy travel days at PDX lead to thousands of lost items

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Every passenger who travels through Portland International Airport has the potential to lose something. Every lost item has the chance of making it to the aiport's 'Lost & Found' department.

"On average, we get around 19,000 items per year," said Dionna Schaefer, one of the people who oversees the department.

The range of items people leave behind is astounding. There are jackets, strollers, luggage, canes, posters, books, baby toys, calculators. The list goes on and on. Most of it is never recovered by the original owners.

"We have about a 20% success rate to reunite people with their items," said Schaefer.

Many of the items are bizarre. On KATU's visit to the the department, we saw a squeegee, battery-operated candy machine, large hardbound dictionary, and a carseat.

"Sometimes, we're not sure what the item is," said Schaefer. "We might have to ask a couple co-workers 'what do you think this might be?'"

Schaefer will sometimes Google an item to see what it is. She told us the story of an ornate, cast-iron object that looked like it had been in a fire.

"I was like, 'this actually looks like it might be a flame juggling thing,'" she said. "Sure enough it was. There was a woman who had it as part of her act. It was her juggling, flaming baton she lost for her show."

Most items are kept for just 30 days. If they are unclaimed, the airport donates the items to a local charity. More valuable or personal items, like cameras and cell phones, are kept for longer. Anyone who thinks they may have an item in lost and found can call them at 503-460-4272 or toll free 1-800-547-8411, extension 4272.