On Wednesday, September 24, one of our secret agents “lost” a Samsung cell phone at Hammond’s Beach. Today, at 5:07 p.m., the item was reported found on SendMeHome.com, with this message:
Hammonds, sitting on a big dead tree … crying Call 805-886-XXXX.
It was lost, found, and returned within 24 hours, becoming the second item returned in our experiment. (Read about the first, an iPod Shuffle lost at UCSB, here.)
The finder was Mike Lodato, a marketing professional who lives in Santa Barbara and walks that stretch of coastline every day. To him, it seemed that maybe someone had placed the phone on a prominent position, which is common practice in that area for people who find lost items. The colorful SendMeHome.com label “leapt right out at him,” so he logged onto the Web site to see what would happen.
“I didn’t have to do anything more than type it in my browser and put in the code,” he said, explaining that he was consciously wondering “how much tolerance people have” to return something. Picking it up was one step, he explained, going online was another step, but if it got any more difficult, then he may have dropped the quest, especially because the phone seemed to be in bad shape (though he realized that the SIM card would be valuable to the owner). “If things start getting hard, I’m going to stop,” Lodato thought to himself as he typed in the number on the Web site. “But right at that second, it got personal.” The code number revealed details about the device and reported that it had recently been lost at that same beach. That connection with another human being made his quest worthwhile.
And today, SendMeHome.com founders James Tamplin and Andrew Lee have their phone back.
Another eight items are still “lost” throughout Santa Barbara. Stay tuned to Independent.com for more recoveries in the days to come.