Lost and Found finds new home

Director of procurement Brian Cotham said the Fresno State Lost and Found wants to help students claim their lost items by publicizing the office’s new location and policies. 

“So, if anyone loses an item, what we recommend is the first thing they do is check with a department that is closest to the location where they think they lost it,” Cotham said.

After that, he recommends trying the University Warehouse located at Barstow and Woodrow avenues. However, Cotham said, the warehouse only saves certain i

“If the item is valued at $300 or more…we’ll hold it for three months minimum,” he said. “If it is cash, we hold it for three months minimum, also, no matter what the value is. And if it’s a personal item — which we define a personal item as a driver’s license, I.D. card, credit card, phones, keys, wallets, and we just added a new one, textbooks — we’ll hold those for one week.”

All other items, Cotham said, are donated to the United Way.

“For example if we get a sweatshirt in, and someone calls and says, ‘I lost this sweatshirt,’ we tell them right off the bat we don’t even have it, even if it’s in the mix to be picked up, and that’s just because we don’t have the resources for hundreds of people to come through our facilities each day digging through boxes,” Cotham said.

Because department offices are required to turn lost items over to the warehouse on a weekly basis, Cotham said students can always check the University Warehouse first.

“Once they have determined that we have the item in our possession, they just need to come in, in person, and claim it,” Cotham said. “And usually that involves them describing what the item looks like.”

If the student can describe the item, and it is valued at over $300, Cotham said the staff will take down the student’s personal information and record the student’s claim.

“So if someone accidentally came and claimed something that didn’t actually belong to them, we could track it back to who we originally gave it to,” Cotham said.

The Lost and Found moved its headquarters from the University Police Department to the University Warehouse in July after an executive order from the Chancellor’s Office changed the way lost items were handled.

“So that was the main reason for that change and before, the Police Department, they kept everything,” Cotham said. “So once it came to us we revisited what the requirements were from the Chancellor’s Office and we stuck with those exact requirements.”

Although the University Warehouse isn’t required to keep everything, Cotham said it has have seen a variety of items pass through its doors.

“We had a $100 bill turned in, which tells me there’s some honest people out there. And we’ve had an iPad turned in, which you know you would think someone would not turn that in, they would keep it,” Cotham said. “And then we’ve had also, like, a full backpack turned in, and it just kind of makes you wonder how does someone lose a full backpack?”

What Cotham said is most amazing, is the number of keys that end up in the warehouse’s care.

“It makes you have to think how are people getting home,” Cotham said. “But we get Mercedes, Lexus, all kinds of very expensive car keys turned in to the warehouse and they’re almost never claimed. We have a box just full of keys.”

As for cash, a new policy from the Chancellor’s Office no longer requires the University to wait before it deposits lost money. That money is deposited into a scholarship fund that benefits Fresno State students. In order to get money back, students must prove the money is theirs.

“Another interesting thing was, we actually had pesos turned into us one time, too,” Cotham said. “So we had to actually go and get that converted to dollars, because we can’t deposit pesos into our account, but it was like 500 pesos or something which I think was like $30.”

Although the warehouse gets a handful of visits each day, Cotham said he hopes that number will increase.

“Yes, we want to make sure as much gets claimed as possible, even though if it doesn’t, it benefits the campus,” Cotham said.

Ray Jimenez, a property clerk at the University Warehouse, said he has seen students come to the warehouse looking very distressed, and said it feels good helping someone find a missing item.

“I’m a former student here too, so, I graduated from here, so I understand what they’re going through,” Jimenez said. “I’ve lost things here, you know, so when you find something, it feels good.

Fresno State student Isaac Campos said he wasn’t even aware Fresno State had a lost and found. Although he said he has never lost anything, when asked what he would do if he lost his phone, Campos responded like most.

“I would probably freak out, I think so,” Campos said. “I would probably ask around, ask my friends, but I really had no idea that we had the Lost and Found.”

Campos said he thinks it is beneficial that Fresno State has a way to help students if they lose a personal or expensive item.

“It’s pretty relieving,” Campos said. “You just hope that people actually use it [the service].”

Cotham agrees, and said he hopes the publicity from the posters around campus will make the lost and found known to students.

“Like I said, really, our most important thing is: we do want people to claim things, but again, we want to make sure we limit that contact to the items that we do keep,” Cotham said. “So it’s those personal items and those items valued $300 or more in cash, whether it’s cash or pesos.”

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