You could get in trouble with the law if you got cash from the street… Believe me, I’m a lawyer
- Martin Pizzi, a partner at law firm Stephensons, cautioned against cashing out
- It’s a crime to ‘steal by finding’ and you could get in trouble if you don’t take ‘reasonable steps’ to find the rightful owner, according to the 1968 Theft Act
- Mr. Pizzey recommends that you take the cash to the local police station
See a penny, snap it, all day long, you’ll have good luck, as the old saying goes – but how about a £10 note?
Spotting a stray tenner on the street could see you dancing all the way to the pub, but those eagle eyes could earn you a major tap on the shoulder and a few questions from PC Plod.
You have just committed a little-known crime of “robbery by find” – and people have been convicted of this seemingly innocent crime six years ago.
‘Stealing by find’ is a crime, a legal expert has explained – so putting cash in your pocket could get you in trouble with the law (Stock Image)
A British woman fell foul of this law in 2017 after she was seen on CCTV picking up a £20 note from the floor of a convenience store.
The chance to be found has earned her a trip to her local police station, a day in court and a bill of £175 because she grabbed the cash, rather than searching for the client who dropped her off.
Martin Pizzi, partner at Stephensons Solicitors, explained that the Theft Act 1968 protects people who come across missing money, but only if they take ‘reasonable steps’ to locate its rightful owner.
For example, take it to the nearest store or take it to the local police station to drop it off.
“Tell the officer on duty your name, where you found it, what time it was, and that you don’t know who it belongs to,” Pizzi told The Sun.
Ask for a receipt, and ask if no one has come to claim it in four weeks, can you come and collect it.
He added that if you decide to take possession of someone else’s lost money without doing so, you may be protected by law if you have reasonable grounds to believe the money was disposed of.
However, this is only likely to last if it’s a very small amount of money like one pound because “nobody’s going to be looking for an hour for a bit of loose change that I’ve dropped”, he says.
Martin Pizzey, Partner at Stephenson Solicitor, recommended that you hand over any cash found at your local police station and leave your contact details if unclaimed.
He added, “Anything of greater value, and whoever drops it from his pocket or purse, will not consider it neglected and is likely to go back and look for it.” This is why plausibility is widespread.
For this reason, it’s always best to “err on the side of caution,” he said, especially when there are security cameras involved.