No, the above photo isn’t the Rio Olympic swimming pool, it’s Vienna’s Danube river which late last year was subject to widespread excitement as a boy found €100,000 (£72,500, or around £85,000 in today’s money) in €100 and €500 notes.
Unfortunately, bystanders that saw the boy retrieving the money thought he was attempting to kill himself so alerted the Police.
The beauty of Austrian law means anyone that finds money and hands it to Police is entitled to keep between 5% and 10% of the total BUT if the owner isn’t found within 1 year, the whole amount is given to the finder.
“The boy said he wanted to bring it to the police, but the question is whether the police found it or the boy,” the police spokesman said.
We will hopefully find out if they money was claimed by the end of 2016, anyway the above got us thinking about the UK.
But what about the UK law?
According to the Police, there is no legal obligation to hand in any money you find to the Police.
A spokeswoman for the Association of Chief Police Officers says:
“There are no laws that I am aware of governing what you should do with a find – it is down to your conscience. However, if an item can be traced as it includes information about the owner, such as a mobile phone or handbag, then you might want to make sure to hand it in.”
What if the money is old/antique/treasure etc?
The law changes if you find any money that is classed as ‘treasure’, under the Treasure Act of 1996 any gold or silver that is older than 300 years old must be claimed by the crown and reported within 14 days. If your find is within this category it must be independently valued, with museums having the option to purchase your find with the money being divided equally between the finder and landowner.
If I hand it to the Police will I get it back if it goes unclaimed?
That depends, if the Police/Courts believe the money is from crime then under the Proceeds of Crime Act they (the state) can keep the money, something that happened to a builder in 2013 when he found £17,940 in a burnt out building he was working on.
In comparison when handing in objects/cash to the Police, some forces will fill in a form with a receipt given to you, this should explain that if the items aren’t claimed within a set period (normally 28 days) you may return and claim them yourself, failing that they would probably end up in a Police auction.
Ask The Police states:
Lost and found property is not the police’s responsibility, however some forces do provide a service with regards to lost and found property. You can find out if your local force offer this by telephoning their non-emergency 101 number.
If they do provide this service, you will be given a form that entitles you to collect the property if it is not claimed within a specified period(except mobile phones and any other unsuitable objects). This period provides the owner with a reasonable amount of time to come forward, allowing for circumstances where a person may not have noticed that something is lost, or where they are on holiday. 28 days is a common period of time for this purpose, but can vary from force to force. Your local force will advise you of the relevant time periods when you report an item as found.
Of course, there are some exceptions e.g. mobile phones, laptops etc that may have personal data on. These often will be destroyed if they’re not claimed within 28 days (or similar), you might think it’s a good idea to try and get hold of the owner yourself but be careful you could be accused of handling stolen goods.