If you’ve traveled on the Long Island Rail Road in recent months, and happened to have misplaced a chain saw, there’s a new place for you to look for it.
The LIRR on Tuesday unveiled its new lost & found office in Penn Station that officials said is an improvement over the cramped and confusing former location.
The 1,100-square-foot office, located between tracks 16 and 17 in the station’s Exit Concourse, features an improved layout, brighter lighting and iPads where customers can file their claims electronically after losing their own iPads — or any of the other approximately 20,000 lost items turned in annually.
“This is a much more inviting area for our customers. The old office was very cramped. It was not really customer-friendly,” said Steve Terracciano, the LIRR’s Penn Station terminal manager. “It’s a lot more bright. It’s airy. It’s open.”
The move was motivated, in part, by a 2015 audit by the MTA inspector general, who had received a complaint from an LIRR customer who lost his wallet on a train. After learning the wallet was in the Penn Station lost and found office, the customer went to retrieve it, but a worker in the office could not find it.
“After a protracted search, the contents of the wallet were eventually found on the floor, missing two gift cards having a combined value of over $200,” said the report, which criticized the lost and found operation for being disorganized and called on the railroad to “better safeguard and facilitate the return of property to its rightful owner.”
Responding to the recommendations, the LIRR has improved security features in the office, including more restricted access to the back office and to high-ticket items, video surveillance and electronic logging.
About 350-400 people visit the office each day looking to be reunited with their lost items, according to the LIRR, which said it has a return rate of about 55 percent. The most frequently recovered items, cellphones, are organized by manufacturer in blue bins behind the counter, along with other commonly lost items, like purses, glasses and wallets.
In the rear of the office are the larger and more peculiar items: a karaoke machine, a pair of glittery platform sneakers, a violin, and that 14-inch Craftsman electric chain saw.
The office typically stores items for 90 days, as required by law, but can hold on to some more valuable items, like expensive jewelry, for as long as five years. If nobody claims an item, the railroad turns them over to a contracted vendor for resale.
The most unusual item Terracciano recalls being turned in: "A prosthetic limb," he said. "It was actually kind of a salesman's sample."
The limb was returned to its owner.