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

Melissa Buttigieg
News Reporter

Victoria Police have warned you could be charged with theft if you decide to pocket it instead of handing it in.

A social media poll on the Victoria Police Facebook page revealed thousands of people admitted they would count their lucky stars and keep the money, rather than hand it over to the cops.

But police said those who kept the banknote would actually be breaking the law.

If you found a $50 note on the ground, would you keep it, or hand it in to police? Source: AAP

“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,” Victoria Police advised on Friday.

“Items should always be taken to a police station and if they are not claimed within a three-month-period, you can take ownership of the item.”

The response shocked many, who admitted the “law” of finders keepers should come in to play, particularly if it was almost impossible for anyone prove they were the rightful owner of the money.

I [kept money] when I was 15 at the bus stop, was a very windy day and $50 [floated] right up to me,” one woman wrote.

“Spent 10 mins looking around for who might have lost it. Then decided it fell into the category of finders keepers.”

Another agreed, saying: I’d give it back if I saw someone drop it. But if it’s floating around, it’s free game.”

“I’d donate it to the nearest bottle shop in exchange for some beers,” one man said.

The poll is still ongoing, but at the time of writing only 37 per cent of 19,400 respondents said they would hand the $50 note in to a police station, compared to 63 per cent who admitted they would keep it.

If you found money on the ground and pocketed it you could be charged with theft, police have warned. Source: Getty

Is keeping money found on the ground really stealing?

According to the Queensland Law Handbook, “stealing is established if someone takes an item with no intent of stealing it but then decides to keep it”.

Go To Court lawyers, which has offices across Australia, says stealing includes “instances where you find something of some value and decide to keep it [larceny by finding]”.

Some other lesser-known laws that could land many ignorant Australians in hot water include driving cars with pets, splashing pedestrians, and disrupting a funeral.

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