"Finders Keepers"?

I’ve got something of a quandry on my hands, and I’m looking for input on how to proceed.

As a byproduct of one of my hobbies, I’ve ended up with a decent amount of other peoples’ property, acting essentially as a lost-and-found after get-togethers. A lot of it is trivial in value, but lately, I’ve picked up a few items that are fairly valuable. I’ve tried to reach out and figure out who these items belong to, but nobody has claimed them. I don’t want to just get rid of them, but they’re taking up space, and I don’t want them just sitting there. It also wouldn’t feel right to just claim the items as my own, as in case the owners eventually contact me, I don’t want to be accused of stealing.

I’m interested to hear how other posters here would proceed in this situation.

Hold on to the items but post something on Facebook or other social media that is time-stamped, so that if anyone comes looking for their lost items you can prove that you made an effort to find the original owner.


Hi friends,

Recently at our party someone left an expensive tablet. Contact me if this tablet is yours and you would like it back.

Keep your descriptions of the items general, so that the real owner will definitely recognize the item and can describe it in better detail, while someone who is lying to get the item cannot.

You’ve tried to find the rightful owners. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s any real black and white in what to do. Depends on the value of the items, their size and your capacity to store them, and how likely you are to identify their owners in the foreseeable future.

It’s not your fault they were left behind, so you do not have an unlimited responsibility to store these items until eventually claimed.

Does the hobby you refer to have a network of others with similar interest? If so perhaps there is a forum of sorts or a newsletter that you may be able to list those items in an effort to get them back to their rightful owner.
Also I know our local newspaper will list for free for 1 week lost/found items in their classified section.
Any other suggestions are difficult without knowing more regarding the type of property involved and the potential for causing the owner grave concern, dollar value, sentimental value, should they go missing. But then again if the items really meant something to the owner you wouldn’t have them. :wink:

You don’t identify the types of “get togethers” which are the source of the property.

If they are get togethers which you initiate, then it would seem that you would know who was there, and would have the means of contacting them (as it would seem you had contacted them somehow to create the get together). The same means should be used to tell them there are these items: a) xyz; b) abc d) efg and etc.

With an item that is of some value (for example, let’s propose a leather jacket - most of which seem to cost about $100 on the low end, and go up from there), it would be best, I you are concerned about someone else wrongly claiming it, to not provide a full description.

How long after that you need to hold it is a question, in part, as to the value of the item, and in part as to the efficacy of your notice.

To make a long story short, I ended up with a jacket and a shirt jacket belonging to someone else; I contacted the person in charge as I was not able to identify who might have left it. I still have them after 4 to 5 months, and they are about to go to Goodwill. I would guess the shirt to be $35 - $50, and the jacket $50 to $75. Somewhere along the line, either they need to remember they lost it, or someone has to do a “memo to all”, but I am not able to proceed further. However, after this long a time, they should have figured out about when they lost it and made some effort to chase it down. Beyond that, the responsibility ends.

Thanks for the ideas.

It was something of a sporting event that a group I belong to organized. We used a local Facebook group and a local forum to advertise it, and somewhere around 50 people showed up. The items range in value from trivial, to somewhere around, I would estimate, $100. I’ve posted a few messages to both the Facebook page and the forum pertaining to them, but nobody has contacted me. It has been about six weeks.

I’ll probably just hang onto them for now, as I have enough space to store them for the time being.

I would be inclined to send the note out again, and maybe hold it for double the time. After 3 months and two or more attempts to determine who it belongs to, send out a 1 week or ten day notice that it will be given to charity (or some such) and then you have done your best.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.