Members of a Long Island Rail Road crew were honored Tuesday for returning thousands of dollars in cash forgotten by a passenger.
At 6:35 p.m. last Thursday evening, during a trip from Hempstead, Long Island, to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, conductor Jerry Savino saw a file-folder style suitcase in the overhead rack of a car.
Upon examining the case, Savino said, he saw “a wallet, a checkbook, important documents, along with an envelope. The envelope had a dollar sign on it. When I read the label that said $9,000, I knew the owner would want me to take good care of it.”
The cash appeared to be business proceeds.
Savino said he was “worried about securing the money and needed to make sure the owner got all his belongings.”
Savino believed a passenger had left the suitcase on the train during its prior trip, from Atlantic Terminal, which had arrived at Hempstead at 6:08. “The bag was on the rack and was actually not closed all the way,” said Savino. “There were other customers on the train. We checked and it didn’t belong to any of them. I took it and brought it to a secure location on the train and then it didn’t leave my sight. I thought if that was my money, that is how I would want someone to handle it.”
Savino and his fellow crew members reported the finding to supervisors, and, on the train’s next eastbound run, brought the items to the MTA Police’s Jamaica district office.
MTA Police Officer Thomas Garland was able to identify the owner and called him. The owner confirmed that he had forgotten the suitcase on the train and was desperately trying to find it. He gave Garland a detailed description of the suitcase. At 9:36 p.m., the owner arrived at the Jamaica office and was reunited with his lost property.
The owner has not been publicly identified.
“We find dozens of items every day,” Savino said. “We always return them to the lost-and-found department. But we never hear back from the customers. In this case, I know it got back to the customer’s hands. I am sure the customer who lost the money really needs it, and I am glad our crew was able to give it back to him. We really care about our customers, and we put a lot of dedication into our job. It was not only me; it was the entire crew who followed the procedure and went beyond it to help find the owner.”
Savino and fellow crew members were honored at a ceremony Tuesday at Atlantic Terminal, attended by LIRR and union officials.
“This is emblematic of the diligence and concern for our customers that employees exhibit every day,” said LIRR President Phillip Eng. “In this case, they saved a customer from potentially days or weeks of anxiety through the quick action and smart handling of lost property.”
“Although remarkable, the actions of the locomotive engineer and train crew are not surprising,” said Kevin Sexton, General Chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. “LIRR employees go above and beyond their duties on a daily basis and this is another example of that.”
“I can assure our riders that each and every day our employees are taking measures to provide for the safety of our customers as well as their personal belongings,” said SMART Union (International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers) General Chairman Anthony Simon. “It is nice to see that in this case a customer and the agency are taking a step to acknowledge the integrity and dedication of one example of what our front-line workforce does each and every day.”
The LIRR finds about 16,000 items left on its trains every year, but only about 53% are returned. Customers who forget an item on the train can file a report at https://new.mta.info/lost-and-found/long-island-rail-road