How to Get Back Items You Lost While Travelling

ABC News' Gio Benitez embarked on a cross country lost and found item experiment.
8:38 | 11/29/14

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Transcript for How to Get Back Items You Lost While Travelling
An estimated 43 million people are traveling this weekend. That means a lot of stuff left behind on planes, automobiles, trains, and hotel rooms. So, we asked gio Benitez to get some true confessions from these lost and found departments. Is getting your lost stuff back a lost cause? Reporter: It's the day after Thanksgiving. And in the mad rush of holiday travel, lots of us are losing more than our minds. We're losing our stuff left and right in rental cars, buses hotel rooms, planes. Time for secrets of the lost and found. Come on. We're at New York's grand central terminal, a train station that serves 700,000 a day. But deep in its bowels lies a treasure trove of lost and found items left behind by weary travelers. . Just need you to fill out this information. Reporter: Melissa gissentanner heads up the department. How many items do you get per day? On average, 100. Reporter: 100 items a day? Where do you fit it all? As you can see, we're busting out here. Reporter: The place is a packrat's dream. There's everything from the predictable coats, luggage, cellphones. To the salacious. The strangest thing I've ever found here probably a bag full of adult toys. Reporter: What did you think? Wow! I was thinking would they be brave enough to claim it? And they came in yesterday, claimed it. Looked to be a very happy customer. Reporter: Melissa says grand central goes the extra mile to reunite travelers with their property. May I have your last name? Reporter: But these aren't always the rule. When you're traveling, your brain falls out. You leave your laptop on a plane, kiss it good-bye. Reporter: What are the odds that you'll actually get anything you lose back? To find out, "20/20" set out on a cross country, lost and found test of lost and found operations, deliberately losing all sorts of items at cities coast to coast. 22 items from smartphones to watches to wallets. We start in New York riding to the airport using the app-based car service, Uber. We're waiting for our driver the app says he's two minutes away. The driver drops me off, oblivious to the satchel with a brand-new laptop and cell phone inside that I've ditched in the backseat. We'll see where it ends up. Getting them back will be a roll of the dice. You're dealing directly with the owner. It's up to the owner to have his or her own system to recover a lost item. Reporter: But isn't that part of customer service? No one starts out with a lost and found system. It's really an afterthought. You lost it, so it's your fault, right? Reporter: Next, we're in the city of angels. We're going to drop things all over the city. I ditched two more items here on sunset boulevard. One of my items, here on the couch. One of them's kind of ordinary. The other one? Not so much! Sometimes people leave some crazy things behind like a French maid costume. So we're going to leave it inside the closet and see what the real maid does with it. If you leave a costume, this is clearly not used for Normal hotel stay purposes. Now, we're off to the famed la Brea tar pits where the fossils of prehistoric animals lie in the muck. But will we be able to recover olaf, the adorable snowman character from Disney's "Frozen?" I like warm hugs. Reporter: We feel a little guilty leaving olaf behind, but before we skip town, we've still got to get rid of a couple more items. We're going to return this rental car and leave behind a wallet and a camera bag. Time to see what happens. We're still on the road, but items come back to us. Our camera bag is returned by an alert employee. No word about the wallet. But unclaimed items can end up in the hands of the staff. They will sell it on Ebay or something like that. Reporter: It can get shipped out to an unclaimed items factory like this. Six months is pretty much the cutoff time. Reporter: And Washington, D.C., a city known for its so-called beltway bandits. But there is some honesty in Washington. We get a call from the capital police. I found a wallet. Reporter: Thanks, uncle Sam. And in Philadelphia, here we leave a pouch with a couple of Jacksons stuffed inside. But this really is the city of brotherly love. We get a phone call. And finally, our spree is over. In ten days, we lost 22 items in six different cities. Only four items have been recovered. It's going to take some effort on our part to get them back. Timing is everything. The moment you see anything is missing, don't wait. Reporter: So we hit the phones and computer. Losing stuff is easy. In most cases, it's almost impossible to get ahold of a live person. Often, our only option was to fill out an online form. A week later, we receive this discouraging reply. And a bad news voice mail about an expensive camera abowe left in a taxi. Unfortunately, we did not find the camera. Reporter: But bingo, this hotel says they've got our items. They send it express mail, just in time for the holiday. To date, we've recovered 11 of 22 items. Half remain at large. People may say, they don't care about our lost items. Well, don't give up. Reporter: File that report. Because chances are -- It will show up. Reporter: But we put her to the test, too. Leaving an item behind, and leaving a lost and found report. You found it. It's a "20/20" lost and found Thanksgiving miracle. If only getting our other stuff back was so easy. We hope poor olaf gets out of the tar pit. No sign of him, last we heard. So, did you ever get any of your lost items back? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter, use #abc2020. Next, baristas spilling the

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