Finder’s Keepers?

28th June 2016 | Written by Michelle Hearne

Michelle Hearne - croppedIf you find a lost item in a public place and you take possession of it, can you keep it?  The act of taking possession of the item is not wrong itself; but if you were to take possession with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it, then the taking may be a trespass and you may be found guilty of theft.

If you take possession you are a depositary and you assume the obligations of taking reasonable steps to locate the owner and to take due care for the safety of the item until it is returned to the owner on demand.  The owner must have intentionally abandoned the item to lose title; if not, they can recover the item provided they are not time-barred from doing so.


For more information please contact Michelle Hearne in our dispute resolution team at our Hove office on 01273 329797 or email her at