THE cleaning staff came rushing out of one of the cinemas at Golden Village Suntec City.
They looked frantically for Bernard Soh, 35, the operations manager.
"There's something moving in the dark," they reported, nearly out of breath.
His first thought - rats.
Armed with aluminium tongs and torchlights, he led "an assault team" into the theatre, which was already empty as the movie had ended.
Within minutes of the lights being turned on, he spotted a moving shadow under the rows of red-coloured seats.
It was no rat. It was a live Sri Lankan crab.
A few rows away, they found a supermarket plastic bag containing another five live crabs, still tied up with raffia string.
Said Mr Soh: "We went around picking up all the crabs. Don't ask me why people want to take live crabs to a cinema."
It is just one of many unusual experiences that he has had dealing with lost items for nearly a decade.
People tend to lose their items during the holiday season, Mr Soh said.
Phones, wallets, purses and umbrellas are high on the list of things that people leave behind.
But there have been stranger items.
"We've found things like amulets, hell banknotes and voodoo dolls," he recalled.
He is bewildered by the many instances of schoolchildren leaving behind their schoolbags, complete with textbooks and stationery.
"Many schoolbags go unclaimed. I have no idea how they go to school the next day."
Big-ticket items have been found in taxis.
In August, a Comfort taxi driver returned $43,400 cash and in November, a CityCab driver returned $18,000 to a cancer patient.
ComfortDelGro's group corporate communications officer Tammy Tan said: "Unclaimed items and cash are kept for three months before they are donated to charities such as the Singapore Red Cross Society and CabbyCare Charity Group."
CabbyCare Charity Group helps the less fortunate and is active in community projects.
In Golden Village's case, its staff will attempt to contact the owner if any identification is present. The items will be locked up in a wooden lost-and-found cabinet in the office for three months.
If still unclaimed, credit cards will be cut in half, gadgets will be destroyed to wipe out the data inside and other general items will be donated to the Salvation Army, says Mr Soh.
What about the crabs?
Said the manager, with a chuckle: "Oh, no one came back for them. We passed them to the mall staff to keep for three months.
"Whether they cooked the crabs, you'll have to ask them."
Lost and found
Average number of lost items recovered from Golden Village cinemas each year: 700
Number of police reports for lost items last year: 115,000
Number of police reports for found items last year: 31,000
Number of items found in taxis, buses and trains run by SMRT and ComfortDelgro in 2012: 80,000
Biggest value item found in a ComfortDelgro taxi: $1.1 million in cash
Odd items found at Golden Village cinemas: Sri Lankan crabs, hell banknotes, voodoo doll
Odd items found in ComfortDelgro taxis: 5kg gold bars, worth $377,000*, rabbits*, dogs*, wedding gowns, dentures, crutches
*Returned to owner
This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.