Last week I made a Tweet from the UK Daily Mirror newspaper in which they asked if you could legally keep money, jewellery or lottery tickets you might discover on the street. “Does the adage of ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ actually stand up in court?” they asked.
After reading the article (click on link above if you haven’t already done so), you will see that the catalyst for this report was Nicole Bailey who last year wound up in court after picking up £20 on the floor of an convenience store. Read the story and how much she was fined HERE.
The definition of theft – “the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it”, could has some relevance to the hobby. In my experience detectorists go to extreme lengths to reunite people or their descendants with their property. I have written many stories where this has happened, but it’s not always easy. Dog tags and relatively modern jewellery with inscriptions are easier items than most.
After reading my Tweet, Irish detectorist Adrian McStraw contacted me and said:
“I have in the past found money on the street and pocketed it but that was because I had know way of identifying who lost it. If I find it in a shop I hand it over.
I lost my wallet in a shop in Derry and was contacted by the assistant as they had checked my wallet and found one of my business cards. There was a considerable amount of cash in it as I was on a weekend break in Donegal. I left a gift for the person who handed it in to the shop assistant. I’m a strong believer in what you give you will gain in return. Here’s what I did when I found a gold watch. If it doesn’t belong to you its not yours to keep.”
With joint finder Gavin McMahon, Adrian’s ‘gold watch’ story appeared in the 2017 February 6th edition of the Portadown Times. The owner of the watch was the rector of St. Mark’s church in Portadown and the watch was eventually returned to his grandson. You can read about it by clicking HERE.
Adrian said he and Gavin had got a ‘real buzz’ not just from unearthing the watch, but from returning it to the family. He added, “We have turned up all sorts of things over the years and always ask farmers’ permission to go on their land.”I know a couple of beach detectorists who always declare jewellery (especially) if found on the beach. In addition they also post on social media in search of the owner. If unclaimed after a certain time, the item becomes the finders. I think you must be seen to make all reasonable efforts to find the original owner. It’s wiser to be cautious and careful than to be hasty or rash and so do something you may later regret.
Acts of kindness are performed on a regular basis by detectorists everywhere.
A couple of my recent posts on the same theme … returning items to the rightful owners:
Please remember how we are perceived by the pernicious Polish blogger, the arrogant Paul Barford who refers to all detectorists as “smug-arsed twits, two-faced slimeballs, gawping proles, hoikers, heritage pilferers, metal detecting half-brains, thugwits, planks, weak-minded plebs and shallow-brain dullards … amongst other derogatory terms.