Unclaimed items left by passengers at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) were put up for auction on Wednesday, with many bargains bringing smiles to winning bidders.
The auction was conducted by the Aviation Police Office (APO).
“Come, here we have an item of clothing with a starting bid of NT$5. This pair of eyeglasses also starts at NT$5. If you place a bid, you can have it,” police officer Yen Chih-hung (嚴志宏) shouted while standing on a chair at a temporary auction spot at the airport.
It was a lively scene, with individuals in the crowd competing with one another and upping the bidding at the annual auction organized by the APO’s Taipei branch to off-load items accumulated by the airport’s lost-and-found depot.
Most of the bidding was by taxi drivers, who are regularly at the airport to pick up passengers.
In three hours, all 381 unclaimed items at the lost-and-found depot were sold, with many giving credit for the sales to the persuasive Yen.
A Nikon D80 camera fetched the highest price, with a winning bid of NT$4,000. A Sony PSP went for just over NT$1,000.
Overall, the auction brought in a total of NT$23,000, which will go to the national treasury, according to the airport authority.
“Not one item was left. I’m happy to have accomplished this mission,” Yen said with a smile.
According to the APO, items left by absent-minded passengers included hairpins, eyeglasses and mobile phones as well as larger items such as walking canes, electric generator motors and luggage.
Some valuable items were also left behind, such as high-priced bottles of foreign alcohol, top-brand diamond-studded watches and other jewelry, an APO official said.
Each month up to 1,000 items are left behind by passengers, building up to a sizable amount over the course of the year.
“For lost items at the airport, the APO and the airline companies will do their best to track down their owners and return them. If we really can not find the owners, then the APO will commission civilian experts to examine them to see if the articles are genuine, and then fix a valuation on them,” an airport official said.
Genuine articles of high value are sent to government-operated pawnshops with the lower-value items and articles that cannot be determined as being genuine sold at the annual auction, he said.
“Bidding by yelling out prices is a lot of fun. But you need luck to buy something really good,” said a taxi driver surnamed Lin (林), who was holding several bags of items bought at the auction.