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Theft victim launches lost and stolen site

A new Vancouver-based website is helping the absent-minded and victims of crime locate lost and stolen goods. hosts ads about lost, stolen and found goods to hook people up with their stuff or collect tips to support police investigations. The ads describe the article and the place it was lost or found.

"The public needs a lost and found. You go to a pool, there's a lost and found. You go to a local school and there's one," said Darren Martin, the website's founder and financier.

"We all lose stuff, whether it's innocent -- you drive away with your cellphone and purse on top of your car -- or someone takes your bicycle."

Posted items include lost pets, a gas mask, a modelling portfolio, a boat and many cellphones.

A break-in at Martin's home last year was the inspiration for the site, launched two months ago. The thieves stole Martin's cellphone, keys and wallet. "I phoned the police and they didn't have the time to come out right away," Martin said. "The police don't have the manpower to chase people's things down."

In 2009, there were 2,363 break-and-enters in Vancouver, 1,024 motor vehicle thefts and 8,885 cases of theft over $5,000.

Martin found a surveillance video of a man using his credit card at a local gas station and used global positioning to locate his cellphone -- information police used to make an arrest. But Martin's stuff was long gone, so he decided to start a website to try to recover it. Now he hopes other people will post tips about the lost and stolen goods and then go to police with the information.

"This is just an honest person's website. It's not supposed to chase criminals. It's not supposed to prosecute anybody," Martin said. "Your job is not to be the police all of the sudden. Your job is to tell the police, 'I think this is stolen.'"

Lars Longva, owner of Alpine Firewood, posted his stolen $30,000 firewood processor on the site two months ago with a $5,000 reward offer.

Longva received one tip that he passed on to police. "Somebody had seen it travelling between Abbotsford and Chilliwack heading east, being towed behind an old motor home," Longva said.

The bright yellow Kisa-Kombi firewood processor is one of only a few in Canada. "I am hoping that a neighbour of whoever's property it's on or someone who buys firewood from somebody sees this thing," Longva said.

The site isn't just for stolen articles. There are also listings on the site for garden-variety lost items such as eyeglasses and keys.