September 5, 2023
SINGAPORE – Businesswoman Julia Chia could not believe her eyes when she saw a lost and found corner at a Bukit Batok coffee shop with several ez-link cards, keys, and credit and debit cards.
The 26-year-old had chanced upon the spot in Mei De Coffeeshop in Bukit Batok East Avenue 3 while having breakfast with her husband there last Thursday morning, and she took to TikTok later that day to express her excitement about the high level of safety in Singapore.
The video, posted on an account she shares with her husband, has since received almost a million views.
Mrs Chia, who moved to Singapore from Germany two years ago and co-founded sustainable lifestyle brand kupaa, said the lost and found corner was in “plain sight and accessible to everyone”.
She added: “Singapore is known for being secure, but… we are widely travelled and have never seen anything like this.”
Netizens were also impressed with the corner and shared examples of the times they had left laptops or phones in public places and come back to find them untouched.
One netizen said: “This is one of the traits the locals grew up with for generations, not to take what’s not yours, so most items can usually be found even if they are lost.”
Others had more amusing takes.
One netizen said he once used his phone to reserve a table and although no one stole the phone, he found all the chairs gone when he returned. Another netizen said: “Someone left their laptop and study notes on a table and went to the toilet. When they came back, their laptop was still there but the notes were gone.”
The owner of Mei De Coffeeshop, who wanted to be known only as Mr Bai, said the corner is an act of community service and that the items featured in Mrs Chia’s TikTok video have been unclaimed for a couple of months.
Mr Bai, 41, said: “We’ve been in the coffee shop and canteen business for a long time, and we always have customers who misplace their keys, ez-link cards and wallets.”
He added that customers have also left behind laptops and phones, but that these items are kept more securely in drawers behind the counter.
Customers who leave behind items often return within the day to collect them, said Mr Bai, adding that Mei De staff will return the item only if the customer’s identity can be verified, such as by providing the passcode to an electronic item.
When The Straits Times visited Mei De Coffeeshop on Monday afternoon, the cards hanging at the lost and found corner had been removed.
Mr Bai said this was because the corner had accumulated so many items that it had begun to look “unsightly”.
He added that the cards remain safely stored in drawers at the coffee shop and will be for the next one to two months. “We don’t really have a rule of thumb, but generally we display them for around three months. If (they are) still unclaimed, then we can consider disposing of them,” he said.