Spotlight on Burning Man’s Impressive Lost & Found System


Burning Man 2017’s Community Services Department Manager, Terry Schoop, salvaged abandoned belongings from this year’s event at the organizations’ San Francisco, Calif. headquarters. Forgotten assets are cataloged on Burning Man’s official website with snapshots and lot numbers.

Misplaced identification, cameras and smartphones are the most common finds. However, fire nunchucks, one “dark-leafy-print bandanna lost on the playa somewhere around the giant flamingo” and chainmail loincloth skirts add flair to the otherwise mundane list.

“As of mid-November, we’ve recovered 2,479 items and returned 1,279,” said Schoop. “We have about a 60 percent return rate.”

Burning Man 2017

North America’s biggest outdoor arts festival spanned five square miles on a parched lake bed in Black Rock Desert, Nev. and housed 60,000 patrons for nine days.

Since Burning Man’s relocation from San Francisco to Nevada in 1992, rounding up tangibles left behind is a cherished tradition. Mike Kivett, manager of a portable toilet and trailer Burning Man vendor since 2003 remarked:

“If somebody finds it, they’re going to return it because they know what it’s like to lose something out here — a sense of obligation, duty to fellow man.”