Americans lose $39 billion of items a year with most losses occurring on Saturdays in December

SEATTLE – December 6, 2012 – Figures released today highlight the need for Americans to protect their belongings as the most dangerous time of year for losing things approaches. According to the research, commissioned by Mozy®, the world’s most trusted provider of online back up and data access solutions, more items are lost at 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays in December than at any other time of the year.

The transition from work to weekend, and Saturday afternoon Christmas shopping to Saturday night parties, appears to create the perfect conditions for loss: more items go missing on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays than the rest of the week put together.

And people travelling through Chicago, New York and Atlanta should be extra cautious since these three cities form the Bermuda Triangle for lost property in the U.S. – with more items reported lost or stolen there than in other cities.

A whopping 39.5% of Americans lose two or more belongings a year, and globally less than half of lost items are ever recovered. With the average person in the U.S. misplacing nearly $250 worth of possessions in the past 12 months, this amounts to well over $39 billion of lost property in the U.S. this year.

The most commonly lost item is a smartphone – which accounts for 40% of all items lost by men and 33% by women in the U.S. In line with this trend, 70% of people globally have lost electronic gadgets, such as smartphones, laptops and portable media players, which is all the more upsetting because losing these items not only means losing an expensive device but also the data that is stored in it.

“’Getting carried away’ and ‘carrying too much’ were two of the top reasons for losing things,” said Gytis Barzdukas at Mozy. “While rushing home from work to get to a holiday party, or hurrying back after a day of Christmas shopping, for example, you may have left your smartphone – right after you had taken some great pictures. So it’s more than the device itself you lost. As the research shows, it's the vital work on the laptop, or the irreplaceable pictures on your phone that people really hate to lose. That's why we're urging everyone to back up the content on their devices before they get to the most dangerous time of the year. It’s simple to do and you can even do it for free."

Reinforcing how important backup is, 57% of respondents said they would be more upset about losing the data on a device than the device itself. So valuable, in fact, is the information on smartphones that, rather than just getting a replacement device, 97% of people who had dropped their phone down a toilet said that they had tried to retrieve it.

Some of the most common things that people reported finding were: money (in some cases as much as $4,000), bags, pets and jewelry. More than 15 sets of false teeth were reported found by those surveyed. And even more unusual, mummified dogs, a 17th century cannonball and a winning scratch card were all uncovered.

The best hope for recovering lost items is for someone else to return them, the research found. 55% of lost items in the U.S. found their way home courtesy of a kind stranger, compared to just 12% of items that were rediscovered by their owners. Beware though: while 61% of people have found an item that wasn’t theirs and 52% successfully returned them, 16% kept the item for themselves and six percent sold it.

When it comes to comparing Americans to Europeans in looking for lost items, almost 90% of the British give up looking for an item after one week. Only Americans looked for less time (92%). Germans are the most persistent with over a quarter of respondents continuing their search for a month or more. Interestingly, Germans are also least likely to lose belongings – with 64% of respondents claiming not to have lost anything in the last 12 months (compared to a global average of 51%), and that country claiming the highest proportion of people who had lost only one item (14%). Going against the lucky stereotype, the Irish are the most likely to lose items (36%).

Regional differences also appeared in the type of items that are lost, and how they are lost. Fashion-conscious French are twice as likely to lose a favorite item of clothing than the British and four times as likely as Germans. Americans are twice as likely to lose laptops as Germans and four times as likely to lose their keys. Germans, however, are two-and-a-half times as likely to lose their purse or wallet as Brits or the French. Americans are four times as likely as Germans to lose an item because they ‘got carried away.’

Top ten things that go missing (global):

1. Smartphone
2. Jewelry
3. Sunglasses
4. Keys
5. Bank/credit card
6. Clothing
7. Umbrella
8. Purse/wallet
9. ID
10. Paperwork

The five things people are most upset to lose:

1. Bank card
2. Laptop
3. Smartphone
4. ID
5. Wallet/purse

Looney Losses – some of the most unusual things found by the people surveyed:

  • A chicken
  • A handcuff key
  • A small antique clock
  • A bag of worms
  • A bowler hat
  • A 17th century cannonball
  • False teeth
  • Mummified dog
  • Rolex
  • Unexploded bomb
  • A safe
  • A full bank deposit bag
  • A samurai sword
  • A .45 caliber handgun
  • A draft screen play
  • A parakeet
  • A little black book
  • An antler
  • One Prada shoe
  • Two guinea pigs
  • A rowing machine
  • A cash register
  • A winning scratch card
  • A gold tooth


In 2012 Mozy surveyed 3,500 people in the US, UK, Ireland, France and Germany regarding their experience of losing and finding items. The survey was conducted independently by marketing research firm One Poll on behalf of Mozy. Click here to find out more about the survey.

About Mozy

Mozy by EMC is the world's most trusted provider of cloud backup and access, with more than 6 million customers, including more than 100,000 businesses, backing up 90 petabytes of information to its multiple data centers around the globe. Wholly owned by EMC Corporation since 2007, Mozy is an essential component in the EMC backup and recovery solutions portfolio. More information can be found at