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Do the cops really do this?


Alpo
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I heard, years and years back, then if you would find some money in the street - like an envelope with $10,000 in it for example - and being a good citizen you turned it into the police. The police would hold it for some length of time, to see if anyone would show up at the police station asking if anyone had turned in an envelope with 10K in it. And if, at the end of this length of time, nobody came looking for it, the police would give it to you.

 

Is that true? Do they do that?

 

Month or so back as I'm walking the dog I see in the road ahead of me what turns out to be a sofa cushion. But what I first thought it was was a suitcase. And I decided when I got up to it I was going to look at it and see what was there. And if it happened to be full of money (yeah, we all know that's going to happen) I would take it with me on my walk. And then I was pondering whether I would turn this imaginary money into the police, or just take it to the house. If I gave it to the cops, and they actually did give it back to me cuz no one was looking for it, there would be a record of it and I would be charged tax. As a good American citizen, I really despise paying income tax. Especially on a suitcase full of money. :lol:

 

But since it was a sofa cushion I did not have to make that decision. But I still wondered about what the police would do if you turn money into them.

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Watch the movie 'A Simple Plan' to see how badly things turn out when someone finds a bag of money.

 

:blink:

 

If I found a bag of money I wouldn't tell a darn soul.

 

 

Edited by Dantankerous
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A very good movie indeed. I watched it again a few months back. Good acting all around, but Thornton is great in it.

 

When you start down that path, you have no idea where it might lead.....

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619
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5 minutes ago, Smokin Gator SASS #29736 said:

These days if leo finds you with $10,000 cash they might take it from you until YOU prove it's not drug money or other illegal proceeds. It might depend on who you are.

 

Yup.  Quite well documented.

 

The "legal" term is civil asset forfeiture.

 

:o

Edited by Dantankerous
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I know if you find a bag of pot in Oregon and you turn it in you get grilled about it and then they don’t give it to you in 30 days. :lol:
 

That was before pot was legal. 

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I wondered about that one too.

 

You call the Beach Police Department and tell them, "Hey, yeah, I'm down here on the beach behind the Sheraton, and a square grouper just floated ashore."

 

Do you suppose they would accept that you just saw it come ashore, or they would suspect you had something to do with it?

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I had to fly down to San Diego and clean out mom’s safe deposit box.  This included $16k in cash.  I was very nervous flying home with this, but was told no worries on a domestic flight.  An international flight would have violated some max cash rule.

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You know, one would think with all of the cops and used-to-was cops on this forum, somebody would have answered the original question, which was DO THE POLICE REALLY DO THIS.

 

Seems like it would either be "yes", or "no", or maybe "we didn't do that in my department". But somebody would have something to say.

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21 hours ago, Smokin Gator SASS #29736 said:

These days if leo finds you with $10,000 cash they might take it from you until YOU prove it's not drug money or other illegal proceeds. It might depend on who you are.

 

From drugfree.org...

 

Quote

The vast majority of U.S. paper money in circulation contains traces of cocaine, a new study finds. CNN reported Aug. 18 that researchers found that 90 percent of $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50 bills tested had detectable cocaine residue.

 

It'd be gone forever.  New office furniture for the Chief.   :mellow:

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Now, what if a cop finds a bag of money?

 

;)

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31 minutes ago, Alpo said:

You know, one would think with all of the cops and used-to-was cops on this forum, somebody would have answered the original question, which was DO THE POLICE REALLY DO THIS.

 

Seems like it would either be "yes", or "no", or maybe "we didn't do that in my department". But somebody would have something to say.

 

Probably because it's never really happened.

 

I would conjecture the answer is "No".  It's not yours, so why would they return it to you.  If you found a lawnmower, bicycle or gun would you expect them to return that to you?

 

Angus

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Actually, yes.

 

I find a bicycle by the side of the road. I turn it into the police. They hold it for 6 weeks (?) waiting to see if someone comes in looking for a bicycle. No one comes in. What are they going to do with the bike? Sell it at the pawn shop? Issue it to the bicycle patrol? Throw it in the dumpster out back? Or give it to me?

 

Same thing with a lawn mower. I turn it in and nobody claims it, what would they do with it? Why wouldn't they give it to me?

 

I'm sure they would not give me the gun, because (as we all know) guns are evil things that kill people just by being there, so they must be destroyed.

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I think the answer would be that you don't own it, and finding it doesn't make you the owner, nor, I suppose, the default owner. 

 

Some states may have statutes that apply to the situation, but I don't know. There have been such laws as to treasure trove found on your land, or in a house you bought.

 

As for lost lawnmowers and bikes, I don't think the police are in the storage business.

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6 minutes ago, Alpo said:

Actually, yes.

 

I find a bicycle by the side of the road. I turn it into the police. They hold it for 6 weeks (?) waiting to see if someone comes in looking for a bicycle. No one comes in. What are they going to do with the bike? Sell it at the pawn shop? Issue it to the bicycle patrol? Throw it in the dumpster out back? Or give it to me?

 

Same thing with a lawn mower. I turn it in and nobody claims it, what would they do with it? Why wouldn't they give it to me?

 

I'm sure they would not give me the gun, because (as we all know) guns are evil things that kill people just by being there, so they must be destroyed.

 

Sell it at auction.  We used to do that all the time.  Bikes, lawn mowers, suitcases, backpacks, typewriters, pool cues, lawn ornaments, golf clubs, you name it, we'd sell it.  Well, weapons and drugs excluded.  No guns, knives, swords, nun-chucks, or bows.  I am unaware of any incident where the found property was returned to the finder.

 

When you really think about it, it makes sense.  Thief sees a nice bike, steals it and turns it in to the local, or not so local, PD as "found property".  Six months/a year later the PD "returns" the bike to the thief who gets a receipt and can now claim he's the legitimate owner of said property.  Sure, the PD will run the serial number on any property that has one, but how many people write down the serial number on their bicycle?  I can tell you it's VERY few.  And NOBODY writes down the serial number on their lawn mower.

 

The finder is, of course, welcome to bid on the item at the auction.

 

BTW, the item is most likely going to be held for claim for a period measured in years.  1+ years.

 

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I guess, don't turn stuff in? :P

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I read an 'advice columnist' in a certain paper a few weeks ago. A gentle soul had come into possession of a revolver, as I remember through inheritance; maybe in a box of inherited miscellany. The person was ethically opposed to having such an instrumentality. Didn't want to sell it, because that would not get the wicked thing out of existence.

 

There was much discussion about 'giving it to the police'. I remember thinking, why would the police want a gun that was not stolen and not evidence in a case? Just a lawfully owned gun the owner didn't want. What would they do with it? Do they have storerooms for unwanted guns? Do they maintain a smelting furnace to melt orphan firearms. Are they in the firearms business? Yes, I know there are so-called 'buy-back' programs but those are from time to time.

 

They couldn't figure it out. The obvious: if you don't want the gun, won't sell or give it away, and want it gone, why not break it up with a maul and toss it? Too simple?

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619
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I remember, and it hadn't been all that long ago, where someone got his hands on an AR-15, and because they are such an evil mean destructive gun, he decided to destroy it.

 

So he takes it out to the chop saw, and cut 12 inches of the barrel off. Which of course made it an AR-15 rifle with an 8-inch barrel, which was an unpapered Short Barreled Rifle, and should have got him 10 years in the federal pokey, along with a quarter million dollar fine.

 

I don't recall anything happening to him. But there was much discussion on gun boards about him, on YouTube so everyone can see it, making that illegal SBR.

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16 minutes ago, Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619 said:

Hard to believe somebody would think shortening a barrel would destroy a gun. Has that apocryphal feel to it.

 

It has an idiot feel to it.  :D

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About 46 years ago, I found a Browning 9mm pistol in the street near my residence early on a Sunday morning. I lived right at the edge of a city and next to me were orange groves.

 

I turned it into the local PD and they told me if the  gun was not stolen nor claimed in a period of time (60 days?), I could claim it.

 

It was claimed by a doofus that just bought it, brought it out to the orange groves to shoot it, panicked when it was so loud, put it on the top of his car and drove off!

 

Mind you, this was in ca prior to the gun madness era. 

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My daddy oncet by hisself after hunting ducks, bringin the deeks, loading up the rig, etc., headed down the county road. At some point he had to firmly apply his brakes, and watched his Beretta over/under slide down the windshield, across the hood, and onto the hard macadam....

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I think the answer is you’re turning the money into the government. The police just work for them. The government generally is in the business of taking things, even when they give something away it’s something they took from someone else. 
The government is greedier than any corporation out there , we don’t even get to keep our own property why would you expect them to give you someone’s property you found. 

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On 9/25/2022 at 5:33 PM, Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619 said:

I read an 'advice columnist' in a certain paper a few weeks ago. A gentle soul had come into possession of a revolver, as I remember through inheritance; maybe in a box of inherited miscellany. The person was ethically opposed to having such an instrumentality. Didn't want to sell it, because that would not get the wicked thing out of existence.

 

There was much discussion about 'giving it to the police'. I remember thinking, why would the police want a gun that was not stolen and not evidence in a case? Just a lawfully owned gun the owner didn't want. What would they do with it? Do they have storerooms for unwanted guns? Do they maintain a smelting furnace to melt orphan firearms. Are they in the firearms business? Yes, I know there are so-called 'buy-back' programs but those are from time to time.

 

They couldn't figure it out. The obvious: if you don't want the gun, won't sell or give it away, and want it gone, why not break it up with a maul and toss it? Too simple?

 

It was not unusual for a person to bring a firearm(s) to the station to dispose of for whatever reason.  We'd take them, tag them and run the serial numbers to check for theft.  Then they would be sent to the crime lab for testing to see if fired casings or bullets matched anything from an open case.  If everything came back negative it would sit in our evidence room for a while until a large batch of guns would be sent to a smelter to be melted down.

 

I remember one guy, 30ish, came in with a really nice, like new, high dollar pistol to turn in.  Several guys (cops) tried to buy it from him before it became an "official" turn in.  Not a chance.  He wanted the gun destroyed.  I have no idea why.  I was under the impression that he was the original owner.  What a waste.

 

Angus

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COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. $7,000.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY. Louis Booher, Appellant.

 

 

Decided: December 10, 1999

Before FRIEDMAN, J., LEADBETTER, J., and RODGERS, Senior Judge. Charles I. Himmelreich, Harrison City, for appellant. Kelly A. Tua, Greensburg, for appellee.

Trafford Police Officer Louis Booher appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County (trial court) dismissing his petition to set aside the trial court's order of June 28, 1998, ordering that $7,000 found by Booher be forfeited to the Commonwealth.   We affirm.

On April 10, 1998, while on duty, Booher found $7,000 in cash in the middle of Belleauwood Boulevard in the Borough of Trafford.   Booher waited in the area for approximately ten minutes, but did not notice anyone that might be connected with the money or any form of criminal activity.   Booher returned to the police department and placed the money in a locked evidence drawer.   He went back to the scene but saw nothing that would enable him to determine the owner of the money.

The next morning Booher informed the chief of police that he had found the money and that he wanted it returned to him if it remained unclaimed.   The police chief said he would handle the matter.   Subsequently, and without Booher's knowledge, the county district attorney filed a petition to condemn and forfeit the money.   The petition alleged that the money was packaged in a manner consistent with that used by drug dealers and that a narcotics canine had detected a controlled substance on the bills.   The petition was never served upon Booher, who did not learn of the June 28, 1998 order granting forfeiture until January of 1999.   Booher then filed a petition to set aside the forfeiture order on the grounds that the money was his property and should not have been subject to forfeiture.

The trial court noted that in order for Booher to have standing to contest the forfeiture proceeding, he first had to establish his right to the money.   The trial court relied on In Re Funds in Conemaugh Township, 724 A.2d 990 (Pa.Cmwlth.1999), appeal granted, 559 Pa. 695, 739 A.2d 1059 (1999), which held that a police officer cannot claim ownership of property found during the performance of his official duties.1  The trial court concluded that, because Booher could not claim ownership of the money, he lacked standing to attack the validity of the forfeiture order.   Accordingly, by order dated March 25, 1999, the trial court dismissed Booher's petition.

 On appeal to this Court,2 Booher relies on Walker v. West Hills Regional Police Dept., 13 Pa. D & C 3d 456 (1980) and Carr v. Summers, 59 Pa. D & C 6 (1947), in which police officers claimed a right to money they found, which was deemed to be lost, and were awarded the money.   Booher argues that the definition of “property” at Section 1301.1 of the Fiscal Code 3 specifically excludes property deemed lost at common law, and that no other act or regulation prohibits police officers from asserting a right to lost property.   Therefore, Booher argues, he has standing to challenge the forfeiture order as the finder of “lost” property, whose claim is valid against all except the true owner.4

 Booher argues that the decision in Conemaugh Township should be reversed, clarified or limited to the facts of that case, because it eliminates the distinction made in the Escheat Act between lost and abandoned property by treating money found by a police officer as lost if claimed by another, but as abandoned if claimed by the officer.   The trial court opined that the evidence indicated that the money in question was either lost or abandoned property, but the distinction was not relevant to its decision in this matter.   We agree.

In Conemaugh Township, a police officer found $20,000 in cash on a roadside during a routine traffic stop.   The common pleas court rejected testimony by the subject of the traffic stop as not credible and declared the police officer to be its rightful owner.   The motorist appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by not finding that he had lost the cash and was its rightful owner.   The Conemaugh Township court reversed and remanded the matter to the trial court with instructions to direct the actions necessary to effect an escheat of the funds to the State Treasurer.

In reaching its decision, the Conemaugh Township court first observed that neither Carr nor Walker fully examined the public policy implications of their result.5  The Conemaugh Township court next noted that “[a]nything that clearly tends to injure the public confidence in the purity of the administration of the law indisputably offends public policy.”  Id. at 994 (citation omitted).   The court reviewed the great responsibility vested in municipal police officers and the fact that the law requires them to adhere to standards higher than those in many other occupations.   Finally, the court concluded that allowing police to claim property found in the course of their official functions creates an obvious conflict with these duties, which could erode essential public trust.   For these reasons, the Conemaugh Township court held that a police officer cannot claim ownership of property found during the performance of his official duties.

Under the reasoning set forth in Conemaugh Township, whether property found by a police officer in the performance of his duties is lost or abandoned is irrelevant to the finder of the property, because the public faith in law enforcement would be undermined by allowing the officer to assert a claim against the property.   Because the decision in Conemaugh Township is controlling, the trial court properly determined that Booher lacked standing to contest the forfeiture petition.

Accordingly, we affirm.

ORDER

NOW, December 10, 1999, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in the above matter is affirmed.

FOOTNOTES

1.   The Conemaugh Township decision was filed approximately ten days before Booher filed his petition.

2.   On appeal from a forfeiture proceeding, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the trial court's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence and whether the trial court abused its discretion or committed an error of law.  Strand v. Chester Police Department, 687 A.2d 872 (Pa.Cmwlth.1997).

3.   Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 343, added by the Act of December 9, 1982, P.L. 1057, as amended, 72 P.S. § 1301.1.   Article XIII of the Fiscal Code is commonly referred to as the “Escheat Act.”

4.   It is well settled that in Pennsylvania a finder of lost property has a valid claim against all but the true owner.  Hamaker v. Blanchard, 90 Pa. 377 (1879).   Property is lost when the owner involuntarily parts with it through carelessness, negligence, or inadvertence.  Id.  Property is abandoned where the owner voluntarily and intentionally relinquishes all rights to it.  Pocono Springs Civic Association, Inc. v. MacKenzie, 446 Pa.Super. 445, 667 A.2d 233 (1995).

5.   The Conemaugh court also noted that, while it has the utmost respect in the decisions of the common pleas courts, their decisions are not binding on this Court.

RODGERS, Senior Judge

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I worked with Ofc. Lou Booher and Conemaugh borough was adjacent to the City of Johnstown where I worked after leaving Trafford Borough PD. 
Cops in PA don’t get to keep found money. 
It doesn’t address a cops wife getting to keep found money. 

Edited by John Barleycorn, SASS #76982
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