Finders keepers, not according to state law - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Finders keepers, not according to state law

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Albany- We've all heard the saying.

"That's the laws of the world, finders keepers, losers weepers," said Josh Floyd.

As adults we know better, or do we?

"If it was something significant like a wallet full of thousands of dollars then yeah, I'd maybe call the cops," said Mallory Halbert.

What many don't know is that finders keepers and possession is nine tenths of the law, isn't true and it doesn't apply when it comes to title 16 of the Georgia Code.

"That law basically says if you find something, knowing it's not yours and you take use of it for your own benefit without taking reasonable measures to locate the owner you can be found guilty of a crime," said Attorney Joseph Durham.

"There is such a thing called theft of loss or mislaid property. Just because someone loses it doesn't mean that you can claim it," said Lt. Tracy Barnes.

So when you find anything of value you should turn it. It's a problem the YMCA deals with all the time with hundreds of backpacks and jackets passing through.

"We have a lot of stuff left because things are not marked," said Gwen Peterman, YMCA Director of Childcare. They keep a shopping cart of lost and found. "Sometimes they just go unclaimed," said Peterman.

Unclaimed items go to Good Will or The Salvation Army, but people who keep mislaid property you could find themselves in trouble with the law.

"You can actually, under this law, do jail time for taking property that you found and not turning it," said Lt. Barnes.

The only exception is if that property is abandoned.

"If someone were to have abandoned the property and didn't want it anymore and you took it, at that point you could be okay under the law," said Durham.

But what happens when you turn the item over to police, do you get it back if it's not claimed?

"We're required to hold onto the property for 90 days," said Lt. Barnes.

After 90 days, the items is advertised once a week for the next four weeks in the local newspaper, and if it's not claimed, the property is sold at an auction and the city benefits.

"No you don't get to keep it. Everybody thinks oh after so many days it reverts back to me. No, that's not how it happens," said Lt. Barnes.

Profits from the auction go to the city's general fund. Police encourage those who may have a lost an item to file a report in case the item is turned in. If you find something that isn't yours, call your local police department and turn it in after all, it's the law.

Police also recommend using an engraver to make all of your personal belongings. You can borrow an engraver from the Albany Police Department. They are available at every district office and are available free of charge, you just have to stop by and sign it out.

Police say you should not use your Social Security number but some other identifying mark, and you should mark all your items the same way, somewhere where the mark can't be rubbed off.

posted by jennifer.emert@walb.com

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