What Are the Odds of Getting Back a Lost Cell Phone?

What cell phone user hasn’t had a phone drop out of his pocket, get left on an airport security conveyor belt, or (in my case) driven off with the phone sitting on top of the car? Did you get your phone back? While my handset was never to be seen again, in most parts of the world, things tend to turn out better. Reader’s Digest (of all places) put 32 cities to the test to see whether lost cell phones would be properly returned, leaving 30 phones in heavily trafficked public areas, then calling them from a distance or waiting for a random callback.How’d humanity fare in getting those phones back? In 28 of those cities, at least half of the phones were returned, and in 20 of them, a full two-thirds were. The worldwide average: a 68 percent return rate. That’s better than I would have expected.

Who did best? A small town in Slovenia, where 29 of 30 handsets were returned to their owner. At the bottom of the barrel: Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur residents managed to return only 13 of 30 phones.

Other top cities included Toronto, Seoul, and Stockholm. New York City, the only American location tested, tied for fifth, with 24 phones returned.

While I could pontificate and ponder as to the reasons why some cities are better than others at returning property to their owners, I think the data is fascinating on its own. Here’s the full rundown of all 32 cities (PDF link), and don’t miss the full story, linked below, for a little insight into both the helpful and sometimes not-so-helpful human mind.


If you liked this post you can buy me a cup of coffee! 😉


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