Almost everyone has found a coin or two on the street and pocketed it. However, it is not uncommon for entire wallets, or even much stranger things to be lost and then found by other passers-by. But are you allowed to simply take the money if it is a large sum of money?
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Metro clearly advises that you return the money to the person who dropped it, if you can find them. If not, you should hand the money to the police, or to the lost-and-found places. Whatever the amount, you need to look for the owner first, before giving it to the police or to the lost-and-found department.
Hand it to the lost and found office or to the police
According to Metro, there is a law which states that keeping money you found on the street as stealing, it is called 'theft by finding'. This means that, regardless of the sum, you have to at least try to find the owner of the money, otherwise, it could be considered as stealing. If you cannot find whoever left the money there, you need to hand it over to the police, or to whatever shop is closest, so they can either contact authorities or put the money in their lost-and-found department.
This means that you are not actively stealing someone else's property, but you are nevertheless making it your own by not delivering it - which is not permitted. When handing the money over to the lost-and-found office or the police station, you must state the place and time of the find.
If you found the money on a public street or on the floor of a shop, for example, the police and the owner of the shop can work together to trace the money back to its original owner.
What happens if you keep the money
Although it can be annoying to go to the police station and fill out a never-ending pile of forms, it is worth it. Metro reveals that in 2017, a 23-year-old British woman found a £20 note on the floor and picked it up. She was caught walking away with the money on CCTV, and she was then tracked down by the police and taken to court. The £20 belonged to a man who had withdrawn the money from an ATM close by, before losing it on his way home. Several parties involved claimed that most people don't know that pocketing money you found on the street is actually a crime.
Now police have warned people to forget the old ‘finders keepers’ saying it’s a crime to keep money or goods someone else has lost.
Staffordshire Police Chief Inspector Karen Stevenson, told Metro:
We would actively encourage any member of the public who picks up money that has been dropped to be honest and do the right thing by taking all reasonable steps to try and find the owner.
The 23-year-old woman pled guilty to theft and ended up with a criminal record. So be careful if you find money on the street for now on!
This article has been adapted from Gentside DE.
Metro: When are you legally allowed to keep money you find on the floor?
Metro: Woman who found £20 on the floor ended up with a criminal record for pocketing it
Mirror: Money Talk: 'I found £20 in the street, would it be wrong to keep it?'