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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Urn-usual find reunites brothers
A funeral urn
Some of the items stored at the lost property office
A funeral urn has been reunited with its guardian after five years in a lost property office.

With only a name and a date to go on, Transport for London (TfL) staff spent years searching for John Ross's family.

They tracked down his brother, Peter, who told them the ashes had been in a bag stolen at Heathrow Airport.

TfL worker Ted Batchelor said such lengths to return lost items were unusual but "lose your brother and we'll try really hard to help you".

Mr Batchelor, who works in the lost property office, said some German words on the urn led him to an Austrian crematorium where he obtained Peter Ross's address.

False teeth

It transpired that Mr Ross had flown out to Austria to collect his brother's ashes.

The bag containing the urn was stolen while he stopped to make a phone call at the airport.

The urn was returned to the family in December 2005.

It was among some 147,000 items handled by the lost property office in the last year.

Some of the more unusual items recovered down the years include false teeth, eyes and limbs, breast implants, human skulls, an inflatable doll, a jar of bull's sperm and a vasectomy kit.

Workers do attempt to trace owners but any property not claimed after three months is sold at auction, with all proceeds going toward running costs of the lost property office.

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