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Legal expert says you can get in serious trouble for picking up money from the floor

Aisha Nozari

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Legal expert says you can get in serious trouble for picking up money from the floor

Nothing’s more joyous than finding a fiver on the floor, but according to one legal expert, you could be breaking the law by sticking it in your back pocket.

Unfortunately, ‘theft by finding’ is an actual offence, and even more unfortunately, ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ probably won’t stand up in court. 

What ‘theft by finding’ means, is that if you come across a nice crisp note on the floor and don’t try and return it to its rightful owner, you could be found guilty of theft.

Unfortunately, ‘theft by finding’ is an actual offence. Credit:  Samuel Howard / Alamy Stock Photo
Unfortunately, ‘theft by finding’ is an actual offence. Credit: Samuel Howard / Alamy Stock Photo

However, speaking to The Sun, Martin Pizzey, a partner at Stephensons Solicitors, explained that there’s also something called The Theft Act 1968, which protects people who happen upon lost cash, as long as they took ‘reasonable steps’ to find out whose money it is.

Exactly what are ‘reasonable steps’ we hear you ask? Well, for example, you could take the money into the nearest shop or pop down to your local police station and hand it in. 

Martin explained: "Tell the officer on duty your name, where you found it, at what time, and that you don't know who it belongs to.

"Ask for a receipt, and ask that if no one comes to claim it in four weeks, can you come and collect it."

According to Martin, should you find someone else’s lost loot and decide to pocket it, you could also be protected by the law if you had reasonable grounds to believe the money had been discarded.

Sadly, that’s only likely to hold up if you’ve stumbled upon something like a quid, because, as Martin says, ‘no one is going to search for an honour for a bit of loose change they've dropped’.

Even more unfortunately, ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ probably won’t stand up in court. Credit: Daniel Hobson / Alamy Stock Photo
Even more unfortunately, ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ probably won’t stand up in court. Credit: Daniel Hobson / Alamy Stock Photo

He added: “Anything of a greater value, the person who dropped it out of their pocket or wallet, wouldn't consider it as discarded, and they are likely to go back and look for it. That is why reasonableness is on a scale.”

Martin’s bottom line? It’s always best to ‘err on the side of caution’ when nicking other people’s lost money, especially when there’s CCTV around. 

If the prospect of criminal charges doesn’t deter you from picking lost cash up off the ground, this news story from June might. 

That month, police issued a stern warning to people visiting petrol stations, warning them not to pick up any folded notes they might come across as they could contain the deadly drug fentanyl.

Thankfully for us Brits, the fentanyl-loaded notes were being found over in the US, meaning it's safer for us to pick money up from the floor and hand it in to the nearest police station, of course.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Featured Image Credit: Realimage / Daniel Hobson / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Money

Aisha Nozari
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