Man finds $5,000 in bank parking lot, gets charged with larceny three months later

Originally published at: Man finds $5,000 in bank parking lot, gets charged with larceny three months later | Boing Boing


I’ve pretty much have know all my life that if you find money you have to turn it in, and if nobody asked for it after a while it’s yours.


I remember handing in money I found on the playground to the office in elementary school, so apparently that’s something I learned very very young.

I realized, though, that I didn’t know the actual laws regarding finders-keepers.

Turns out that the laws tend to be state or even city specific but at least in the US, they all agree that lost money is still the property of the person who lost it and a finder has legal requirements before they can keep it. In general, you need to make reasonable attempts to find the owner and “reasonable” means different things depending on how much money is involved.

In this specific case, the bag had the owner’s details on a deposit slip and the bag was bank labeled… so “reasonable” is clearly to bring the bag into the bank and bring it to their attention.

If there was no identification at all, then $5,000 is enough money where you’d be required to hand it into the police.

Either way, that guy was 100% in the wrong both legally and ethically.


Well I guess that is a pretty good reason to identify him as a suspect.

“Hey, boss - do you think it could be worth talking to this guy who was at the bank and picked up the missing bag full of cash?”


The offence he committed is Theft by Finding or Larceny by Finding, the crime of failing to take reasonable steps to find the owner of property that has been found. In Canada it’s an indictable offence because the value is $5K or more.


Coincidentally, this is very similar to the traditional ritual here in Texas for selecting high-ranking elected officials.

You leave something valuable in plain sight. If they steal it, that’s our candidate!


I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t walk into the bank afterward saying “Did anyone drop a canvas bag filled with $5000 in cash outside? Because I found the canvas bag.”


His attorney when he found out this detail:

simon cowell facepalm GIF


I’m shocked at how many people don’t understand that “finders keepers” is not legal doctrine.


Yeah, a friend in the Coast Guard found a bale of cash on the beach, he thought it was a couple of hundred thousand, far more than he’ll ever make in a year in that careeer, but knew a) he’d never get away with claiming it (it was obviously drug money) and b) his security clearances meant that his finances were under enough surveillance that he’d be found out the next time he went up for renewal. Turning that in was, he admitted, his job, but letting go of the plastic wrapped bundle was the hardest thing he ever had to force himself to do. I can only imagine.


When I was 17 (in the late 70s) I worked at a ski area. I found a wallet with ID, credit cards, and all the rest of the stuff, but no cash. I turned it into the office. Next morning the office called me in saying the owner of the wallet was there. I was expecting a handshake and a thank you.

The owner/manager of the ski area said, “This man says there was $163 in the wallet, and he wants it back.” I explained that I found it empty. The guy became irate. I was shocked and silent - I had no idea what to do. I was terrified. Then I just repeated that I found it empty. The guy wanted me fired.

As I have remembered the amount that they guy said was in the wallet, I will never forget the manager looking at the guy and saying, “the wallet was empty. We trust this employee.” He told me to go back to work. One of those things that sticks with you.


Next you’ll be telling me that he who smelt it didn’t necessarily deal it.


I have to admit, if no one was around, I would have put that in a safe in my house. Costco run dough. :slight_smile:
Now, this bag of money in a bank parking lot… you’re just asking for trouble by not walking it into the lobby.


I once found a tool kit in the parking lot of a bank in a parking spot near an ATM. I threw it into the trunk of my car and kind of forgot about it, thinking some poor schmoe left his tools and his loss was my gain. I later got a call at my parents’ house from my bank asking if maybe I had picked up a tool box and intended to perhaps give it back to the owner? I said, yes, of course! (They had my plates on the security camera and the bank manager knew me by sight, anyway, since it was a small town.) Come to find out, those tools were specialty tools for servicing an ATM. If only I’d have known, my 23 year old self might have found a way to go to prison from attempting to bust into an ATM!

I can see how it would be easy to be tempted like this person was.


Anyone from the generation that uses phrases like “a crock of baloney” is obviously old enough to know that it was wrong to keep the money.


Most people agree that you can probably just keep random things you find in the street, but my neighbors sure change their tune whenever I take and sell their cars.


I’m assuming your buddy was on duty. In contrast to this story, which has so, so many unanswered questions.

BTW, a couple hundred thousand doesn’t take up much room. A million in 20’s is about the size of a banker’s box. If it was a “bale”, I’m imagining 2 million or more.


i have an entire backyard filled with electric scooters. darned if i know who keeps leaving them around


I’ve worked in the security industry for several decades, having a trade ticket as a journeyman locksmith and currently licenced as a security consultant. I have always taken my position of trust seriously.
An old locksmith I used to work with occasionally told me his response to people at parties that joked about being able to use his skills to steal; “I’m always honest, make a good living, have customers that call me specifically when they have a security problem and never have to look over my shoulder.”


Screw it, I’m keeping the $3 I found scattered in the supermarket parking lot.