Single shoes, phones and cash: Winnipeg arena staff work to reunite patrons with lost items

If you’ve ever left something behind at a large event, you know the feeling of frustration or hopelessness trying to get it back — but for Glen LaFrenais and his team, trying to reunite patrons with their lost items is a daily occurrence.

LaFrenais, senior director of security for guest experiences with True North Sports + Entertainment, told 680 CJOB’s The Start that people would be shocked at the type of random items left behind at Canada Life Centre after a concert or Winnipeg Jets game.

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“We have seen some pretty wacky stuff. It’s mostly just how you lose it and what you’re doing when you leave it behind — a lot of single items like single shoes or single AirPods,” he said. “Sometimes people have a little bit too much fun here.

“Our event staff and security and ops teams work really hard to try to reunite people with their belongings at the event, because it can be a really overwhelming or stimulating experience when you get here.”

While in most cases, arena patrons notice something’s missing within a few minutes and the situation is resolved quickly, LaFrenais said the downtown arena has a special room to store found items for up to two weeks, including safes for high-end gear like jewelry or phones.

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“Being a downtown facility, storage isn’t on our side, so we do our best to house things for 14 days here,” he said.

“We have a large locker room and our security team, which works 24 hours a day, does our best to categorize by event, because we can have events every day here.

“If we kept it forever, we could probably fill the building.”

Unclaimed clothing items, he said, are typically donated to organizations like Agape Table, and unclaimed cash — including $500 in U.S. currency that was once found in an arena stairwell — is donated to charity.

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“In situations like those we try to make it purposeful…. We donated that money to our foundation, and we consider it a success in our books.”

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And while excitement during a high-energy Jets game could lead to phones and other items falling out of pockets and between seats, LaFrenais said concerts are always the source of the weirdest items.

“We have a museum of unclaimed shoes,” he said.

“People do some crazy stuff at concerts mostly — I think it’s becoming a new fad where people try to get their boots signed by country singers, or they actually throw their phones up on stage hoping artists are going to take a picture or selfie … or put their phone number in there, I don’t know what it is.

“I’m going to give you some advice: they’re not going to do it.”

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Anyone looking to be reunited with items left behind at the arena should call the 24-hour security office at 204-926-5599.

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