A few years ago, a customer of a Shepherds Bush barber’s shop lost a ring in the park. At £15 it wasn’t expensive, but it had huge sentimental value. A poster went up – offering a £150 reward.
A few days later, a woman walking in the park found the ring. It was reunited with its owner. But the women refused to take the reward.
That simple act of kindness was the spark for a lost-and-found website that aims to become the go-to destination for anyone who loses or finds anything.
Big-hearted Shepherds Bush barbers Ray Hatoun and Talal Alami hope to reunite people with misplaced items via TioRay.com – including ump-teen dropped wallets found on the street, whose owners the police no longer have staff to trace.
“The police don’t handle lost property, and even when they did, would you go and look for things at the police station?” asked Talal, 35. “It might have been handed in at this police station, when you’re nearer to that police station!”
Similarly, Transport for London no longer has the resources to try to find the owners of, for instance, 10,000 umbrellas left on tube trains ever year.
Easy and elegant, Tioray (or ‘Uncle Ray’ in Spanish!) is founded on the principle that people are basically kind-hearted, and happy to help others just as they’d hope good citizens would assist them.
The idea for a single point to bring loser and finder together buzzed around in the mind of Ray, who works on Sundays at the Fyne Blades barber shop near the Co-op in 94 Askew Road.
He talked it over with Talal, and – over a haircut in the barber’s chair of the salon where they’ve worked for 16 years – they enlisted the help of one of their customers, tech wizard Paul Derby, who developed the search algorithm that powers the website.
“I’m the bridge between Ray’s vision and Paul’s technical ability,” laughed Talal as he explained how anyone can register a lost item by filling in a couple of simple spaces online.
With so many people owning smartphones with cameras, it’s also possible to add photos of lost and found items to make the process more visual and simpler to use.
Nothing is lost for good
Back in the day, Heathrow Airport and every major railway station offered a left luggage and lost property service… but no longer. So, the chances of finding the Good Samaritan who hands in your missing possession are greatly reduced.
“With Tioray, nothing is ever gone for good,” said Talal, who added that every year more than 300,000 different items are found by TfL, ranging from false teeth to envelopes of cash, handbags to urns full of ashes.
Via the website you get a secure link to your email address (with a promise that your email is not used for marketing), and finder and loser are put in touch.
“We believe that people in communities are committed to doing good, and Tioray combines the power of satellite technology, the precision of GPS and the convenience of an app to help connect people who find missing items to the people who have lost them,” said Talal.
“You chat via email, so it’s very secure.”
If you’re passing the Fyne Blades barber shop, give the boys a wave. Talal is also a creative photographer, with several of his dramatic views from Britain and around the world framed on the walls of the salon.
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