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The Bermuda Triangle that lurks within your living room

What do the following have in common? A dead frog, dog food, credit cards and a pedometer? The answer: they are all items members of the British public have found down the back of their sofas.

Add to this list £1,500 cash found stuffed in a settee donated to a charity shop in May 2011, thousands of mobile phones, keys and small change and this home furnishing is in danger of becoming the ‘black hole’ of the living room; sucking in all manner of items.

Concerned by the potential loss of so many worldly goods within the nation’s three-piece suites, Ecclesiastical’s home contents insurance team set out to uncover just how severe the problem is. Enlisting the help of an independent market research company, they asked over 2,000 Britons   about their personal experiences of loss caused by the humble sofa. The answers they received confirmed their worst fears.

From small change to mobile phones

Top of the list for disappearing into the sofa is money – small change, notes, even wallets and purses. 59% of the UK’s population report losing their hard earned cash while reclining in the comfort of their own living room.

The next most common casualty is the TV remote control: over a third of us (35%) have hunted high and low for the remote only to find we’ve been sitting on it all along. Among 18-24-year-olds, the figure is as high as 43%.

Food also has a strong tendency to go missing  within soft furnishings: sweets, crumbs, biscuit wrappers and toffees are all listed in the Ecclesiastical survey, as are items of cutlery and  pet food, particularly dog and cat treats.

Settees, so the study reveals, have an appetite for expensive household items as well as their cheaper counterparts. 13% of us have found jewellery in our furniture while further 4% have found MP3 music players. According to the UK Home Office, around half of the 1.3 million mobile phones reported lost each year eventually turn up down the back of their owners’ sofas.

Tips for tracking down lost items

So how can you prevent your treasured belongings slipping into the cracks of your settee? Not very easily, is the simple answer – unless you want to attempt to sew up the gaps between your cushions and the body of your settee. But if something does go missing in your living room, experts advise you should track it down using these techniques:

  • Check the spot where you were sitting and the surrounding area 

  • Look under loose cushions and push your fingers into the gaps around the back and sides of your settee 

  • Check your own pockets – often we put items like spectacles, tickets and keys away without really thinking about what we are doing 

  • Remember the last time you had the object and mentally work back towards it, searching all the places you have been 

  • If the item usually sits on a particular shelf or hook, have a look there. Again, you may have returned it without noticing, or someone else in the house might have 

  • Is the dog curled up in his or her basket happily chomping on your missing possession? 

  • Ask your partner, friend or flatmate if they saw you with the item 

  • Check the bathroom or by the phone – often when distracted we walk around carrying objects and them lay them down in odd places 

  • Take a break from the search – this can give your subconscious mind time to work on your memory 

  • Finally, the last resort: go out and buy a replacement item

No one likes to lose their hard-earned possessions, but at least having recognised the settee as the most likely culprit, we know where to begin our search. Be warned: some settees do not give up their treasures easily. It can take time, effort and an arm extended right down inside the base of the offending couch.

The only thing to bear in mind is that, in searching for your lost remote control or your iPod Nano, who knows quite what else you are going to find down there. that’s where Aunt Edna’s false teeth went.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.