Why you should never return lost property in person

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/04/why-you-should-never-return-lo.html


The gymnastics a court would have to go through to make this nonsense stick is sadly all too easy to imagine, given this is the age of fashionable orange fascism.


Anyone remember Operation Lucky Bag?

The one time I found a purse in NYC I immediately called 311, who then directed me to call 911(?!?) after which a cop came and took the purse away.

I didn’t go through it because I was terrified I was being set up for a sting like in Operation Lucky Bag. Which is to say I’m not sure whether or not you can consider this campaign to have worked or not.

The other times I’ve found phones etc. here I’ve just given them back to the nearest retail location. If the guy behind the counter pocketed it, not my problem.


Pretzel logic wins again!


I had no idea that “theft of lost or mislaid property” was a thing, but apparently it is a crime in quite a few places.


Reason #623,091 why people don’t trust the cops in the US.

In other news, my wife wound a purse in the middle of the street the other day. Someone dropped it while crossing. Took it home and we looked at it, probably had 60 different cards and stuff in it. Tracked them down on Facebook and left messages, tried calling various former employers, who wouldn’t tell us anything, and finally found her address. Biked over, but she no longer lived there.

Gave up and brought it to the police, and told them that it would be much easier for them to track her down, as all the former employers would give them the contact info.

“Eh, probably not,” the officer said, clear that he had absolutely no intention of trying.

Then we bumped into a friend who hails from the same country as this woman appeared to, and lo and behold she knew her. Tracked her down and told her which police station to go to to recover her purse.

Glad we didn’t just leave it to the police.


Funny when we found my sons iPhone last summer after he lost it. It was shattered but functioning. Some tool took a selfie with the phone. I brought it to our town cops and they said “unless you know who that person is and have a witness to him damaging the phone. There is nothing we can do. shrug”.

My reply was “aren’t you the police? Can’t you…ya know DETECT some things and investigate?!”

They did nothing.


A couple years ago I found some suitcases in the bushes near my house- someone had obviously stolen them and rifled through them… I found the bag tag and sent the location and some photos to the owner. A few hours later I get a call from a police detective (who doesn’t immediately identify himself as one) who aggressively questions me about the bags. It took me a minute to realize that they were considering me as a suspect in the theft. Some detective. No good deed and all that.

Eventually I did hear from the owner who was gracious, but the overall experience was a warning about how much to stick ones neck out. Sad!


I would like to call your attention to the previous Boing Boing post:


So - if I find a suitcase filled with bearer bonds or unmarked twenty’s - do not bring it to the police.

Keep the contents safely tucked away and divided in several undisclosed locations until the owner contacts you. The burden is on them to find you.


Wait. So did the owner of the phone press charges, i don’t understand why the cops would go after the person returning the phone unless the owner of the phone was specifically pressing charges.


I’d like to point you to the cautionary tale of one Llewelyn Moss on why this may also be a bad plan.


This article is from April 2017. What happened to poor Rick?


This confused me as well. How would the cops even know about it unless the phone’s owner brought them into it… and why would they do that?

It’s not clear, but what often happens in situations like this is the “victim” is hustled along by the cops but eventually wakes up and stops coooperating.


Never go back to where you found the money.

Kathy who? Living in what country?


WTF? Did the person who had it returned want to press charges? Because that was a dick move.

I found a phone once. An iPhone, actually. But the battery was dead. So I had a friend at work charge it, figure out whose it was, and took it to the house the person lived at (I think they were visiting their parents or an uncle or something.)

Also, fun fact, I work very near Metcalf and 135th.


Quite a society we’re creating here.



You got them working in shifts!


Yeah, there was a story in the UK ages weeks back where a guy was sentenced for fraud because he scammed the lottery with a fake winning ticket and then bought a big fancy house in his hometown instead of leaving for somewhere a) with no extradition treay and b) where it doesn’t rain all the fucking time. We’re talking over 3 mill here as well…