Hundreds of thousands of mobile phones left in the back of Taxis

A Global survey of 2000 taxi drivers from eleven major cities around the world shows thousands of valuable mobile phones, handhelds, laptops and USB Sticks are forgotten in taxis every day.

Mountains of mobiles are left every day by fretful and forgetful travellers at the back of city cabs as passengers rush to leave taxis for their next destination. In the last six months alone, Londoners have forgotten a staggering 54,874 mobile phones* (that’s over 2 per taxi), 4,718 handhelds or Pocket PCs, 3,179 laptops and 923 USB sticks/thumb drives at the back of licensed taxi cabs and that’s just the ones that have been reported as lost!

London is not alone when it comes to forgetful travellers. It would seem the story of lost and forgotten mobiles echoes around the world with the same fate afflicting Sydney, Bombay, Stockholm, San Francisco, Washington, Helsinki, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich and Oslo.

However, of all the cities London still comes out on top as the capital with the most forgetful population losing more mobile phones than any other city, followed by Bombay travellers who have lost a total of 32,970 and Sydney citizens who come third with 6,440 mobile phones reported as lost.

Interestingly the survey found that when it came to handheld devices such as Pocket PCs London once again came top with 4,718, Washington came out in second place with 2,260 and the Germans were also forgetful with their devices in Munich losing 1,902 and Berlin 1,125.

The numbers of lost laptops was also highest in London (3,179) with Munich in second place with 355 and Bombay in third place with 349.

In light of these staggering figures Pointsec (experts in mobile security) who conducted the survey amongst licensed taxi cabs to gauge the frequency and ease with which small mobile devices are lost in transit, would encourage business and individual users to back-up, encrypt and password protect their device in the event of it falling into the wrong hands and the data then being stolen, compromised or abused.

Mobiles a potential Security Threat

A warning message to the business community and individuals to be vigilant when travelling with their mobile devices has never been more relevant as this survey comes at a time when the latest crop of mobile phones are now capable of storing 4Gb of memory.

That’s equivalent to physically storing data on 400 boxes of paper in 9 filing cabinets with the capacity to retain 4 million emails and 4000 songs.

The space provided by these recent “must have” mobiles means business travellers can now use them as a mobile office and a convenient replacement to the home filing cabinet to store a host of personal and business data including customer and personal names and addresses, pictures, insurance details, bank account and credit card information, NI numbers, and other highly sensitive data, making it even more important to secure the data, in the event that the device is lost.

Taxis a safe place to lose your mobiles

There is some good news for our absent minded travellers though in that, if you are going to lose your mobile device, you couldn’t do it a better place than a taxi!

That’s according to the findings of the survey; globally an average of 75% of passengers were reunited with their mobile phones and 78% with their Pocket PCs and Laptops – with the cab drivers in almost all cases tracking down their owners.

Once again London came out on top – this time for having the most honest drivers with 96% of all mobile phones reported as being re-united with their happy owners.

However, the case was very different in San Francisco with just 32% of passengers being reconciled with their mobile phones and just 32% getting back their laptops compared to 100% in Bombay, Berlin and 97% in London!

Not just mobiles, but pork chops, babies, drunken women, judges wigs and machine guns……..

When asked what was the strangest items left in their taxis it was interesting to note that around the world a large number of people strangely leave their false teeth at the back of cabs and it was not uncommon to hear of artificial limbs being forgotten in almost every country surveyed!

UK taxi drivers admitted to finding a telescope, a drunken women left as a tip by her boyfriend, a machine gun and £100,000 worth of diamonds.

In Helsinki a taxi driver found secret papers from the military forces and in London a cabbie returned a laptop belonging to an employee from the United Nations which he managed to return after turning on the device and finding out who owned it – which nicely shows why it’s so important to encrypt and password protect every device to stop less scrupulous individuals from tampering with the information.

So if you don’t want to risk a virtual custard pie in the face from family, friends or your employer, heed the message and protect both your device and yourself.