By Jonathan Sperling
When an absent-minded Long Island Rail Road rider left his personal belongings and $9,000 in cash on a train, he easily could have ended up on the wrong side of the tracks. Fortunately, he found himself on the train of LIRR Conductor Jerry Savino.
Savino and his crew were commended by Metropolitan Transit Authority leadership and union heads on Tuesday after the eagle-eyed Savino turned in a suitcase in the overhead rack of a car on train #765 last Thursday. The suitcase contained a wallet, tax documents, checkbooks, and $9,000 in cash that appeared to be business proceeds, according to the LIRR.
“I was worried about securing the money and needed to make sure the owner got all his belongings,” Savino said at the commendation conference. “After I went through the suitcase; I saw the 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.”
Savino quickly deduced that the suitcase had been left on the train’s prior run, a 5:19 p.m. departure from Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn that was due into Hempstead on Long Island at 6:08 p.m.
Springing into action, Savino and his crew members reported the valuable find to supervision, who directed the crew to bring the items to Jamaica. Supervisors met the train crew at Jamaica at 7:40 p.m., brought the suitcase to the MTA Police Department’s Jamaica district office and handed it to an MTA police officer.
Using the contents of the case, MTA police found the identity of the owner and reached him on the phone within minutes. The rider confirmed he had left the suitcase on the train and gave an extremely detailed description of the property. At 9:36 p.m., around four hours after the rider had left the suitcase on the train, he arrived at the Jamaica office and retrieved his property.
LIRR President Phillip Eng called Savino’s actions, “emblematic of the diligence and concern for our customers that employees exhibit every day.”
Savino noted that he and his crew find “dozens” of lost items on LIRR trains every day and “always return them to the lost and found department. But we never hear back from the customers.”
Savino also added that “it was the entire crew who followed the procedure and went beyond it to help find the owner.”
The Long Island Rail Road’s Lost & Found takes in about 16,000 items per year and returns about 53 percent of items, according to the agency’s own data.