Stealing by finding

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
jimlews
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Location: Not the end of the world.

Stealing by finding

Postby jimlews » 25 Nov 2020, 6:24pm

Inspired by the "Mystery abandonment" thread, is there such an offence as the above in UK law?


thirdcrank
Posts: 30537
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Stealing by finding

Postby thirdcrank » 25 Nov 2020, 8:58pm

Remember, some of the cases on that thread involved locations in Scotland where they have a different definition of theft.

A further complication is whereabouts "lost" property is found in England/ Wales. Normally, if the true owner is untraced, then the finder has the next best title, but if the article is found on private property, then the owner of the private property is first in line. There are bylaws for property found eg on public transport and in taxis and even if the finder could not be shown to have stolen the property they might well fall foul of the bylaws.

Another complication involves "appropriation" in the Theft Act 1968 which replaced "takes and carries away" in the Larceny Acts. This means that even if you initially act honestly, if you later discover the true owner, the situation may change if you are found to have appropriated the property.

Obviously, this depends on the evidence, let's say you are walking down a deserted street and you see a £20 note on the pavement. You pick it up and at that point you might reasonably believe there was not a chance of finding the owner. Just then, a worried-looking person comes beetling along, eyes glued to the ground who asks if you have seen a £20 note. If you said "No" that might amount to theft.

In the days when the police had a formal discipline code ie specific discipline offences, failing to account for property was one of them, presumably intended to prevent police officers who found property saying they didn't think the owner could be found

I'd say that in E&W if you found a bike and reported your find to the police, you would be safe from the Theft Act, but the bike would still be the property of the "true" owner. If they had abandoned the bike presumably they would have no interest in it anyway but remember it might have been stolen and dumped. If they'd had an insurance payout, then the insurer would acquire ownership.

axel_knutt
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby axel_knutt » 26 Nov 2020, 3:42pm

I found a wallet with cards but no money once. I was quite anxious when I handed it in, in case I got accused of taking the money.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

thirdcrank
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Nov 2020, 3:53pm

axel_knutt wrote:I found a wallet with cards but no money once. I was quite anxious when I handed it in, in case I got accused of taking the money.


No reason for you to worry. Apart from the apparent complete lack of evidence that you had stolen the money - always assuming there was any to steal - stripping any money from stolen wallets etc., then dumping them PDQ is a standard MO to avoid being caught with identifiable property. I once found half-a-dozen wallets scattered on a verge on the A650 in Bradford cycling home after a late turn when Bradford City had been playing at home.

I suppose stealing a wallet, removing the money, then handing it in might be a cunning plan to avoid suspicion ............

nomm
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby nomm » 26 Nov 2020, 4:06pm

I found a bike in a bush once on a public street - Bit of rust on components, buckled unridable front wheel. Old step through steel Peugeot in need of a bit of TLC and a new wheel.

I called the police and they agreed I could keep it for 3 months in the house if I gave them a description and frame numbers - after that if it had not been claimed it was mine to keep. Thus I did, and with a little bit of love it was an excellent pub bike for a few years, before a move meant I donated it to a bike project

simonhill
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Location: Essex

Re: Stealing by finding

Postby simonhill » 26 Nov 2020, 4:22pm

When I was a kid, back in the 60s, if you found anything you took it to the local Police station and handed it in, with your name and address. If it wasn't claimed in (I think) 3 months, it was yours. I presume that had some sort of legal backing. T

Nowadays, no local Police station and getting to the nearest one often involves a bit of a journey, so no great incentive to bother handing anything in.

I found a bank card in the road yesterday. Handed it into my local Nat West bank and got a thank you.

rmurphy195
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Location: South Birmingham

Re: Stealing by finding

Postby rmurphy195 » 26 Nov 2020, 7:47pm

I remember a neighbour, whose house backed onto mine, commenting on the amount of security I had on a garden shed that faced away from my house (but faced his). He seemed quite proud of the fact that he'd been a naughty boy, having been recently caught by the police while he was taking a bike that he "found" on the side of the pavement, claiming he didn't know whose it was so he took it. "I guess you don't like that sort of behaviour do you" said he, seeing the expression on my face. My reply was "Well, you may not have known who it belonged to, but you knew it didn't belong to you"!

A few days earleier I'd cycled to work in Birmingham town centre, up the bristol road, and got off the bike to walk through the underpasses - after a few yards I realised I'd only got one glove, so went back to look for it. And there it was, being kicked along the pavement by a bloe who I'd passed just before dismounting. "Why are you kicking my glove along the path" I asked "Well, I didn't know whose it was" he replied (as if!) "Well, you know whose it wasn't, don't you" was my response. And my attitude.
Brompton, Condor Heritage, creaky joints and thinning white (formerly grey) hair
""You know you're getting old when it's easier to ride a bike than to get on and off it" - quote from observant jogger !

thirdcrank
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Nov 2020, 8:11pm

Re: handing property to the police, the administration problems that caused in those days were huge. In Leeds City Police we had a centralised property store at Leeds Town Hall staffed by a sergeant, an experienced PC and a "civvy." It was a tail that wagged the dog, long before most of the others were grown. Found bikes were a particular problem, partly because they take up so much room and, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of people couldn't recognise their own bike if it were to be waved under their nose, with or without serial numbers.

Another point is that "joyriding" on a pedal cycle is only a summary offence so somebody caught in the act, with the right legal advice won't be convicted of theft of that bike.

From the POV a finder, a pedal cycle is usually "identifiable" in that it will normally have a serial number which the owner may have recorded. Even if the police won't accept its being handed in, a report to the police of finding it would normally be excellent evidence of no fraudulent intent.

There's a difference between having a defence against a charge of stealing and acquiring ownership. The latter is quite a complicated subject and involves more than the police saying it's ok to keep it. It's possible to have innocent possession of something which belongs to somebody else, even if neither party knows who the other is.

francovendee
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby francovendee » 27 Nov 2020, 8:00am

Finders keepers, losers weepers.
We used that taunt when I was a kid and someone had your property!

Tangled Metal
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby Tangled Metal » 27 Nov 2020, 8:12am

simonhill wrote:When I was a kid, back in the 60s, if you found anything you took it to the local Police station and handed it in, with your name and address. If it wasn't claimed in (I think) 3 months, it was yours. I presume that had some sort of legal backing. T

Nowadays, no local Police station and getting to the nearest one often involves a bit of a journey, so no great incentive to bother handing anything in.

I found a bank card in the road yesterday. Handed it into my local Nat West bank and got a thank you.

A school mate's brother found a casio calculator watch fastened around a was of pound notes, added up to £50 plus the watch. That read the 80s. The kid handed it in to police and 3 months later got the watch and gave his brother, my class mate, the £50! The watch was not easily found in the shops in town. It was new out I think and was so much the future coming to the present. Kind of made you believe that everyone would be driving flying cars by the 2000s! :lol:

Tangled Metal
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby Tangled Metal » 27 Nov 2020, 8:16am

If you found a bike, police notified, told to store it for 3 months then yours. If after 3 months owner comes forward with proof that it's their bike and it was stolen. Who gets to keep the bike?

thirdcrank
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Stealing by finding

Postby thirdcrank » 27 Nov 2020, 11:30am

francovendee wrote:Finders keepers, losers weepers.
We used that taunt when I was a kid and someone had your property!


The fact that something rhymes doesn't make it right. I've had that chanted at me as a child by somebody holding a pencil personalised with my name, in the days when sets of pencils like that often were offered as birthday / crimbo presents.

I suspect that theft by finding has been used most against baddies who have used "I found it" as a defence against having nicked it plain an simple.

Perhaps the modern equivalent is "I bought it at a car boot sale." AFAIK, the legislators haven't created an offence of buying at a car boot sale.

nomm
Posts: 190
Joined: 13 Oct 2015, 8:39pm

Re: Stealing by finding

Postby nomm » 27 Nov 2020, 2:39pm

Tangled Metal wrote:If you found a bike, police notified, told to store it for 3 months then yours. If after 3 months owner comes forward with proof that it's their bike and it was stolen. Who gets to keep the bike?


Good point - I only went by what I was advised of at the time

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Stealing by finding

Postby Cyril Haearn » 27 Nov 2020, 5:02pm

Saw a domestic fire extinguisher on the verge, big & heavy, should I drag that to the cop shop?
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