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Left behind for Christmas: Most dangerous time of the year to lose things

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 4:43 p.m. MST

Seventy percent of people say they have lost electronic items, a survey by Mozy says.

Ryan Jerving, "2007Symposium" via Flickr

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Beware the holiday season.

A new study shows that if you are going to lose something, chances are you are going to lose it at 6 p.m. on a Saturday in December.

Mozy, a provider of online backup services, commissioned a survey in 2012 that asked people in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, France and Germany about their experiences in finding and losing things. The study, which was just released last week, showed transition times are the most dangerous for losing things — Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays are the worst. Layer a holiday season over life, and things are being left behind.

Knowing the danger times for losing things — and why and what is lost — can help people plan for and take better care of their property.

"Six p.m. is the transition time from working to personal times," Gytis Barzdukas, senior director of product management for Mozy told the Deseret News. "People are enroute to a social event on Saturday. A babysitter may be coming in or kids are being dropped off. Things get lost and dropped as well."

Barzdukas remembers a few years ago when he was in a cab in London and hurrying between meetings. He left his Dayminder planner — full of notes — in the cab.

"Fortunately the cabbie remembered where he had dropped me off and returned it," he says.

Nowadays the most lost items are smartphones — accounting for 40 percent of all items lost by men and 33 percent by women, the study says.

About 70 percent of people globally say they have lost an electronic gadget of some sort or the other — phones, laptop and tablet computers, music listening devices and so forth.

The losses add up. The average person in the United States lost about $250 worth of stuff in the last year. This makes more than $39 billion of lost property just in the U.S. this year.

Some of the top items in addition to smartphones are jewelry, sunglasses, keys, bank and credit cards, clothing, umbrellas, purses and wallets and identification.

Only about 18 percent of items are stolen, Barzdukas says.

Germans hold onto their stuff better than other nationalities (64 percent say they didn't lose anything over the last year). The Irish were the least lucky with only 36 percent saying they hadn't lost anything the last year.

Lost found

Just because something is lost, doesn't mean the person will never see it again. It is just unlikely the person who lost something will find it. The survey says 55 percent of lost items were returned by the kindness of strangers like Barzdukas' London cabbie. Only 12 percent ever find their stuff by looking for it.

Of course, some people who find things never return it. Sixteen percent of people surveyed said they kept what they found and 6 percent said they sold it.

Some of the items people said they found were strange. People reported finding a chicken, a bag of worms, a cannonball, false teeth, a mummified dog, a full bank deposit bag, a parakeet, an antler, a gold tooth and a samurai sword.

"Who is carrying a chicken?" Barzdukas says. "How does a chicken go missing?"

But as the survey shows, things go missing during transition times when the normal routine is broken.

Like two Fridays ago when Barzdukas did some Christmas shopping.

"Instead of heading home," he says, "I headed to the mall."

He didn't lose anything this time in part because he was being extra careful and was aware of the danger areas for losing stuff.

"We need to be wary, be more careful and be prepared," he says.

Lost memories

Another danger is the replaceability of things. People are not as upset, the survey says, about losing items as they are about losing the data on items — such as photographs.

"We have all these photographs in our phones," Barzdukas says. "Our devices are great for preserving memories. They are portable and we can share them. But when they are mobile and accessible they are also more liable to be lost as you move through the world."

This is, naturally, why a data backup company is doing a survey about lost things. If somebody loses a chicken, however, they are probably on their own.

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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