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I've already posed this question on Jim from Idaho's post in relation to gold bars, but I'm curious about the general consensus among detectorists..

Is there a time period after which the 'finders keepers' rule applies?

I'm asking because I face this dilemma every time I find valuable jewellery (especially wedding rings) on the beach, whether to turn them in at the police station in case someone has reported them lost or to hang on to them and keeping quiet.. Value could not just be monetary but also sentimental..

Thanks for your feedback to a question I'm sure plagues the conscience of other detectorists as well.. 

Edit: just realised I've posted this on the wrong forum, it should be on the 'Metal detecting for jewellery' forum.. Not sure how to change it..  

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27 minutes ago, Erik Oostra said:

I've already posed this question on Jim from Idaho's post in relation to gold bars, but I'm curious about the general consensus among detectorists..

Is there a time period after which the 'finders keepers' rule applies?

I'm asking because I face this dilemma every time I find valuable jewellery (especially wedding rings) on the beach, whether to turn them in at the police station in case someone has reported them lost or to hang on to them and keeping quiet.. Value could not just be monetary but also sentimental..

Thanks for your feedback to a question I'm sure plagues the conscience of other detectorists as well.. 

Edit: just realised I've posted this on the wrong forum, it should be on the 'Metal detecting for jewellery' forum.. Not sure how to change it..  

 

Erik, I have studied this topic in-depth.   It's an intriguing dilemma for an md'r who wants to "obey all laws". 

 

Basically it boils down to this :  All 50 states have lost & found laws.  They were born out of wandering cattle laws of the 1800s.   The wording varies from state to state, but there is always a dollar valuation cutoff .  So in CA, for instance, if you find something worth $100 or more, you are required to turn it into the police station.  If no one claims it within 30 days, then you can come claim it.  And if the police will run a "found" ad in a local newspaper.  If you intend to claim the item, then you must pay the cost of publication for that classified ad.  Other states might charge you a 'storage & handling' fee if you intend to come back for it in 30 days.

 

The law makes no provision for how long YOU think an object was lost for.   Ie.: even if you strongly suspect the ring has been lost for 100 yrs, makes no difference to the law.  Because, otherwise .... gee .... everyone would twist it and say "Shucks, looks like this has been here a long time".   And would simply flaunt the law.

 

Also the law makes no provision for YOU to try your own repatriation attempt @ looking for the owner.  Eg.:  Pinning a note to a telephone poll, or using the CL lost & found section.  It simply says to turn it in to the police. 

 

The law also doesn't say how the $100 valuation is arrived at.  Ie.:  Is this the intrinsic melt value ?  If so, do you go by pawn shop offers ?  Or a refiner who's paying 95% of spot ?  Or do you go by the value when new in the jewelry store case ?  For example:  Is an I-phone worth $500, since that's what someone pays to get one ?  Or is only worth .30c of intrinsic melt value (a bit of silicone, copper, plastic, etc...) ?   So I asked a lawyer this question, of how to value an item, to see if it triggers the state's L&F laws.  He thought for a moment and said: "Turn it in to the police, and let THEM decide how they want to value it".  Doh !

 

Needless to say, no md'rs are keeping this law.  A quick look at any md'ing forum's show & tell section, shows no shortage of md'rs posting their bragging rights beach rings, eh ?   Ok, how many of them do  you think "ran to the police station to turn them in " ?   And it must not be a big deal to law enforcement either.  Because otherwise they could simply monitor our forums, and go around busting people, eh ?   But obviously, they're not.  

 

Thus basically :  Do you want the technical legal answer ?  Or do you want the realistic answer ?   Do you want to be fully law-abiding ?  Or are you going to "wink wink no-one-cares" on this particular one ?  🤪

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Often high end jewelry is insured if that makes you sleep better at night.

If it has initials or a name on it I'll try to find the owner.

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If present with obvious markings, I'll make an attempt to find the owner. Religious metals, bracelets etc can be returned to the appropriate church.  Not sure what else can be done so won't loose any sleep over it.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Tom_in_CA said:

Ok, how many of them do  you think "ran to the police station to turn them in " ? 

Thanks for that in-depth reply Tom, it looks like you've really studied this dilemma.. It seems to me it's a case of both 'Finders Keepers' and 'Losers Weepers'.. Although I usually check with the local cops if anyone has lost the jewellery I've found, especially if it has names or initials on it..  

58 minutes ago, kac said:

If it has initials or a name on it I'll try to find the owner.

 

28 minutes ago, Hard Prospector said:

If present with obvious markings, I'll make an attempt to find the owner.

Thanks Kac and Hard Prospector, this has also been my policy..  

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Not for nothing but my hunch if I turned a ring into the local PD, I would almost guarantee after 30 days they would tell me they found the owner and it would instead find a new home on their wife's or GF's finger.

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1 hour ago, kac said:

Often high end jewelry is insured if that makes you sleep better at night.

If it has initials or a name on it I'll try to find the owner.

Haha, well .... sure .... your conscience might be smoothed knowing that the person hasn't suffered a loss (if indeed it was insured).  HOWEVER :  When an insurance Co. pays out to a policy holder, then , if the ring surfaces somewhere, then *technically* the ring now belongs to the insurance Co.   Thus .... can you *really* sleep better at night ?  😘

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18 minutes ago, kac said:

if I turned a ring into the local PD, I would almost guarantee after 30 days they would tell me they found the owner and it would instead find a new home on their wife's or GF's finger

Crikey! That puts a different spin on the dilemma.. 😬 

 

54 minutes ago, Hard Prospector said:

Not sure what else can be done so won't loose any sleep over it.

If Kac is right I probably would loose sleep over it.. 

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9 minutes ago, kac said:

Not for nothing but my hunch if I turned a ring into the local PD, I would almost guarantee after 30 days they would tell me they found the owner and it would instead find a new home on their wife's or GF's finger.

Kac :  I speculated that notion on a thread, for-this-topic before.  And someone challenged that, saying : That I was presuming that the police are corrupt.   They took offense to the notion, that a desk clerk at a police station could stoop so low.   Ie.: that I was taking a very negative view of my fellow man.  


I assured him that I have a VERY HIGH view of LEO's.  And that, yes, they're just normal dudes like us, and aren't necessarily corrupt.   But that this scenario is a little bit different :   Because .... think of it :  That ring was NEVER YOURS IN THE FIRST PLACE !   You only "found" it.   It's not yours.  So how have you been harmed ??   You turned it in to the police knowing FULL WELL it might be claimed.   And the police are under no obligation to tell you who claimed the ring.  D/t privacy law issues.


And odds are, that the vast majority of things being turned over to the police L&F , have no one coming back in 30 days to claim them.  The evidence for this is that there are periodic police auctions, where this type stuff just gets auctioned off.  So I'll bet that the cops are probably just assuming that you or I are probably not coming back in, in 30 days, to get it.


So if the desk clerk calls his cousin Joey at the 29th day, and says :  "Hey Joey, do you want a nice gold Rolex ?  Just come down to the station and describe a Rolex with these features..."   then, to a twisted way of thinking:  In their minds, no one's been harmed.  YES IT'S STILL WRONG, but ... not in the same fashion as taking your Rolex off of your nightstand, for example.   Someone can rationalize that ... no one (certainly not you, since it was never yours in the first place), has been harmed.


I've often thought about testing the theory, by taking my own wedding ring down to the police, and then coming back 30 days later to see if they still have it.  

 

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3 minutes ago, Tom_in_CA said:

I've often thought about testing the theory, by taking my own wedding ring down to the police, and then coming back 30 days later to see if they still have it.  

What would you do if they didn't still have it? You'd have to prove ownership of that exact ring.. And the cops probably wouldn't love you too much for trying to test their honesty.. My guess would be that this would come back to bite you on the arse, maybe in the form of unwarranted speeding tickets.. 😬 

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