Business Travelers Are Losing PDAs at the Airport

FRAMINGHAM (04/24/2000) - As executives and salespeople roam the country with PDAs, there's a danger that sensitive company data could be lost in a taxicab or airport terminal.

Already, the lost-and-found departments at the nation's airports report a growing collection of digital devices - mostly cell phones, but also a handful of PDAs such as Palm Inc. organizers.

The collection at San Francisco International Airport would fill a cardboard box, says San Francisco Police Sgt. John Franicevich, who oversees the lost-and-found there. "We get a couple of notebooks a month, eight to 10 cell phones a week, a couple of PalmPilots," he says of the inventory.

His advice: Use the device's password protection and fill out the "owner page" so there's a chance the device can be reunited with you. Of course, most lost devices are kept by the finder and aren't turned in, Franicevich notes.

The Internet Lost and Found (www.lostandfound.com) run by Copreco Financial Inc. lists 88 electronic devices - 12 of them PDAs - currently reported lost.

Meanwhile, Denver International Airport gets one or two calls per week from business travelers who have lost Palms and other electronic organizers, a lost-and-found clerk says.

Airport officials say the gadgets usually are left at security checkpoints or on those little shelves at public phones. One official says the best advice is simply to get to the airport early; most devices are lost when the owner is in a rush.

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