Ten weirdest things lost in the “mail”

June 27, 2009

England: Every week about 600,000 pieces of mail are unable to be delivered because they are so badly addressed or packaged, while 25,000 letters posted have only the recipient’s name printed on them.

Anything that cannot find its way to the recipient goes to the Royal Mail’s National Return Centre in Belfast, where ‘address detectives’ investigate the origins of the mail and try to track down who the package is for. Unclaimed items of any value are eventually auctioned off.

This is the only place in the country where it is legal to open someone else’s mail. And some pretty strange things end up there…

1. Milk

A woman posts two two litre bottles of milk to her grandson each week, but unfortunately the address is incomplete so they are never delivered – arriving in Belfast without fail, and always slightly curdled. Despite numerous attempts to track down the granny’s identity she remains elusive.

2. Dead animals

Apparently the centre receives an alarming number of dead animals arriving unaddressed, some of which are stuffed and, after a bit of sleuthing, have been successfully reunited with their taxidermist.

3. Film props

On one particular occasion a box with no address arrived containing props from the film Saving Private Ryan, including a bloodied prosthetic hand.

4. Car parts

Someone sent a car door in the post – it arrived at the centre with no address and no evidence as to its origin.

5. False teeth

The Royal Mail get stuck with plenty of false teeth, which are generally sent back to a dentist if the origin can be traced.

6. 1966 World Cup bottle of champagne

Signed by the whole team, this bottle of bubbly had been a prize in a competition but the winner was never informed so had no idea to keep an eye out for its arrival. After a very long time the surprised owner was traced and received their prize. Better late than never.

7. Kiss statue

A cardboard cut-out of heavy metal group Kiss wound up at the centre and is still propped up in Belfast, owner unknown.

8. Traffic lights

It is anybody’s guess who would go to the effort of posting some enormous traffic lights, and then forget to address the package. The post office ran a campaign to trace the owner but no one came forward.

9. False legs

Like false teeth, prosthetic limbs often get lost in the post. Most are never reunited with their owners but some are sent back to the correct health authority.

10. Digeridoo

Luckily, once the package was opened address details were found inside the instrument and it was forwarded on to its rightful owner.

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