We all know the saying finders keepers losers weepers however a rare and recent case in the UK has ended up more like finders losers, losers keepers if that makes sense!
A shopper found a 20 pound note in a supermarket freezer and decided to keep it however the owner contacted police who charged the finder with theft.
So what should you do if you find money that is not yours?
In most Australian States and Territories the law is the same in that if you take something with the intention of not returning it to its owner, you can be charged with theft. Theoretically this includes 5 and 10 cent pieces as well as a grape.
It is NOT theft if you intend on returning the item to the owner or make a reasonable attempt to find the owner. This can be difficult in the situation of a 5 cent piece on a busy street as how on earth could you find its owner? If however the owner was walking next to you and you saw them drop it, you can see the idea behind making a reasonable attempt in contacting an owner versus not.
It is NOT theft if you intend on returning the item to the owner or make a reasonable attempt to find the owner.
If the UK shopper contacted police or the supermarket and told them about her find. it could have be been a different outcome – especially if the store told her to keep it.
Reporting money to the police usually results in the police keeping it for a number of weeks and if the owner does not claim it, then the person who handed it in can in some circumstances keep it.
So in conclusion, it would be wise upon discovering smaller amounts like $10 to check the vicinity for signs of its owner but items of value in general should be handed in to police. A grape on the other hand, contact us for legal advice but don’t mention you heard this through the grapevine!
With 27 + years defending theft and serious criminal matters we have the experience you need and results you want. Contact us for a confidential and complimentary discussion on 02 8052 3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jeremy Maspero