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Legal expert warns why you shouldn't pick money up off the floor without trying to find owner

Legal expert warns why you shouldn't pick money up off the floor without trying to find owner

Finding money on the floor might feel great but you could get in trouble

Picture the scene, you're walking down the street when amidst the leaves swirling about in the wind something distinctly un-leafy catches your eye, a £20 note.

Somehow unnoticed by everyone else who has trod this path but discovered by you, it would appear to be your lucky day where you get to spend an extra bit of money on some kind of treat.

However, niggling at the back of your mind is the thought that even if it's no longer in someone else's wallet it's still someone else's money and you're technically stealing.

A few years back a woman ended up with a criminal record after she picked up 20 quid she'd found on the floor after CCTV spotted her taking the note.

As much as finding a decent bit of money on the floor could brighten up your day the legal issues are also not worth ruining it over and a legal expert has some advice should you ever find yourself in this situation.

"That's a lot of money but it's not mine, whatever should I do?"
Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Gerard Filitti, attorney at law and senior counsel at The Lawfare Project, told the The Mirror a person could be charged with something called 'theft by finding' if they picked up money that wasn't theirs and kept it for themselves.

He explained that you'd be considered 'guilty of theft' if you tried to take the cash and advised people to make an attempt to return it to the rightful owner.

That could mean turning it over to staff at a shop if you found it there, trying to track down the person yourself if you also found some ID along with the money or heading for your local police station to hand it in if you really don't know where to start searching.

Filitti also said if you find money in a shop and 'don't trust a shop owner' not to simply stick it in the till then heading for your nearest police station was once again the right move.

On the plus side if nobody comes to collect the money after 28 days you can go back in and have it, though it is a bit less exciting than having it immediately after finding the cash.

"Here you go officer, I'll take my receipt and be back in 28 days if nobody's claimed the money before then."
Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images

He's not the only legal expert to say you really need to take 'reasonable steps' towards locating the money's original owner if you don't want to end up in trouble with the law.

Solicitor Martin Pizzey said you should remember to ask for a receipt at the police station when you hand the money in so you can collect it yourself should nobody else pick it up.

If you're lucky you could even end up getting more money than you found in the first place by being a good citizen.

A cab driver who found £570 in the back of his taxi ended up receiving much more in donations after he returned the lost money to its rightful owner despite struggling financially himself.

Sometimes a good deed is its own reward and at other times doing the right thing genuinely does pay.

Either way it's better than getting in trouble with the police.

Featured Image Credit: Cat Gwynn/Getty / Astrakan Images/Getty

Topics: UK News, Money, Crime