Joanita Wibowo

Retirement Income

Why you shouldn't keep the money you find on the ground

Why you shouldn't keep the money you find on the ground

What would you do if you saw a $50 note on the ground?

Some may decide to pocket the bill without a second thought, but the Victoria Police have warned that such conduct would count as theft.

A social media poll on the Victoria Police Facebook page has revealed that out of 21,600 people, only 36 per cent believed that the money should be handed over to the cops.

“A person can be charged with theft if they find something belonging to another person and they keep it, or they deal with it as if they are they owner of it,” the police force advised. You can take ownership of the banknote only if it has gone unclaimed for three months.

The information surprised many social media users, who said that it is nearly impossible to identify the rightful owner. “How do you prove that you lost the money to begin with?” one asked.

“I'd be interested to know how many people go to the police station when they lose $50? I wouldn’t. Seems like a waste of police resources,” another commented.

One added, “If it’s in a wallet and it contains ID then yes I would hand it regardless of what’s in it... but if a loose note floating in the wind… It’s a bit hard to know who it belongs to then I would keep.”

Some claimed they would do the right thing and head to the police office right away. “I found $6000 in an envelope on the ground,” one chimed in. “I didn’t hesitate, gave straight to the police. Doesn’t matter how much it is, it doesn’t belong to you.”

Another shared, “I would just hand it in. I have handed in a $20 note it may have been money that a kid had mowed lawns for a month to earn, it may have been someone’s last $20.”

Does the “finders keepers” principle apply in law? According to Queensland laws, keeping and using a loose cash you stumbled upon could count as ‘stealing’, unless you do not know who the owner or have attempted to find the owner to no avail.

Indeed, most legal experts believed that taking a small note might not land you in court, but there has been a precedent. In 2017, a British woman was charged with theft after pocketing a loose £20 banknote she found in a store.

Would you pocket a bill lying on the street? Let us know in the comments.