A Guide for Finders
What Should I Do if I Find Something?
There's a myth about "Finders keepers" where the finder of property can keep something that they find and call it "just my luck". The reality is this, if you find something it does not automatically make it your property.
Make Reasonable Attempts to Trace the Owner
There is no set law on what you should do with the property but you MUST make all reasonable effort to trace the loser in the circumstances.
What is Classed as Reasonable?
What is classed as reasonable does have a lot to do with the finders efforts. For example, if you find £1 on the floor on the street, then asking around "is this yours?" to people who are nearby for a minute or five is a reasonable effort to find the loser.
However, if you find a pair of sun glasses on the train seat next to you as people are getting ready to get off at the next stop its good practice to call out "has anybody left their sun glasses?" If nobody admits they have then the glasses aren't yours, not just yet anyway.
You must still make reasonable attempts to trace the owner. Some say you can put an advert in the local papers, some say to put up a poster at the train station. You could even hand the glasses in at your stop, but is it likely that the loser will ever contact your station..? They may not use the train often, a tourist or an out-of-towner.
Treasure is the property of the Crown. Anyone who finds treasure should report this directly to the coroner for the district where the object was found within 14 days of the find (or of first having reason to believe the object may be treasure). A finder who fails to report a discovery without a reasonable excuse will be committing a criminal offence.
If using a metal detector, you should follow the rules. You must get the landowner’s permission before searching on private land.
Sea and Seashore
Property found in the sea or the seashore could be from a ship and is known technically as ‘wreck’. All wreck must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck.
How We Help Finders
This is where we come in. We will post the find on our facebook page, website weekly and on other property websites to help reach the owner. We will also be on the look out for any messages from potential losers so the more info you provide, the better chance of finding the loser.
We will collect the lost property from you and securely store it while we do our best to search for the legal owner on your behalf.
The same goes for stolen property. The lawful owner always has legal ownership above all others and so the property, however innocently acquired has to be returned. Unless of course the owner is happy to accept compensation for the item. We can help make arrangements for this too.
What if We Can't Trace the Owner?
There will be times when we can't trace the loser after a reasonable amount of time, usually 28 days and a reasonable amount of effort trying. (For a wedding ring with an initial inscribed inside for example this can be extended to give the loser more time to advertise the loss and for us to link up with the loser.
If all efforts are exhausted, it could be deemed that the loser can't be traced and the property's ownership can be passed on to the finder. But remember, the loser always has ownership rights above all others so if you find a Picasso in a skip one day don't be too surprised or upset if the legal owner traces it in years to come and takes it back.
In cases where the finder believes the property was abandoned then the same process as finding items should take place for items which may have value.
We have all seen stories where valuable items have been thrown away by mistake and with the loser having no real intention to abandon the item. For example, during a delivery a box with "elite office supplies" marked on it is left by the side of the road by mistake. Is there a number on the box to call? Is there a return address ? If not, we can help.
Register an Item You Have Found
Click the 'Register a Found Item' button below, and complete the registration form.