Police reaction: We got it on record (lost&found office)
Time it took for first report to arrive: 2 days.
Once received, time it took for police to recover it: 2 days.
Final thoughts: Relieved and amused.
Full story below:
I arrived at airport security with my mobile phone in my pocket. There was a crowd of people milling around taking coats and belts off and putting them in trays. I was with my wife and son, both with their own suitcases and coats. But I got distracted.
I was the first of the three, so I placed my suitcase and laptop on the conveyor belt at the entrance to the X-ray machine. The conveyor belt was temporarily halted. I walked through the metal detector, which beeped because I had forgotten I still had my phone in my trouser pocket. I walked back through the metal detector. My tray with the laptop was still standing at the entrance to the X-ray machine, so, slightly flustered, without paying much attention, I simply placed my mobile phone in the tray next to the laptop, in full view of everybody (normally, I'd have put it in a coat pocket or hidden from view).
I walked back through the metal detector and was called over to be frisked. At that moment, I didn't think to look back to see what was happening with my laptop and mobile. After being frisked I had to put my feet on a shoe scanner.
Finally, I turned back to the conveyor belt to recover my things. I picked up my suitcase, placed it on top of the tray with my laptop, without even thinking about my phone or noticing whether it was there or not, and carried the two of them over to a table to sort myself out. In all this time, I didn't think for moment about my mobile phone. I put my laptop back in my suitcase, put my suitcase back on the floor and started to walk back towards the X-ray machine to see whether my wife and son were coming through.
At that point, maybe 10 or 15 seconds after leaving the table at which I had left the empty trays, I realised my phone wasn't in my pocket. I looked back to see if I had left it in one of the trays, but the trays were gone and there was no security officer in the immediate vicinity. My son arrived and I explained about the missing phone. After a few seconds, he phoned my mobile from his and we looked around to see if we could hear a phone ring or anyone react. But there was nothing. We repeated this three or four times.
Suspecting that the phone had been stolen before even entering the X-ray machine, we made our way to our departure gate, where I signed up and paid for an hour's Internet access. I couldn't remember the name of the service I knew I had installed on the phone, but then I discovered it was Prey and quickly went to the website. Luckily, I also had Lastpass installed on my laptop, so was able to log in to Prey, where I was able to track my mobile phone, which had left the airport terminal and was somewhere out in the car park area. I blocked it and sent repeated messages and alarms, until contact was lost.
Days later we emailed the airport Lost Property office and learned that the phone was there. It's possible I left the phone lying in the tray at the table after going through security and an airport employee found it lying there. But I find this difficult to believe: the employee who found it would have to have whisked it away very quickly without looking around for the likely owner (standing a few feet away), and would also have to have ignored the passenger talking loudly about having lost a phone, as well as the incoming phone calls and messages very soon after, indicating my location in the airport and email address.
I think that the phone was stolen before it entered the X-ray machine, but the person abandoned it once it started being tracked. I have no answer to this, though. So the loss remains a mystery.
Anyways, being able to contact and trace the phone after I had lost possession was a great relief and a very entertaining experience! Even if in this case the phone was never actually stolen, I'm now doubly convinced of the value of having Prey installed on my phone.