Are things ever fair game?  When do they go from lost & found to trash…or…someone else’s treasure?

Let’s say you were coming out of work and this tool was sitting in the parking lot?  It’s just there on the pavement just as it is in the picture.  Is it fair game?  Do you grab it up?

I ask because I got into a conversation with a friend over this.  He found this tool just sitting there in the parking lot.  He said he assumed it just fell out of someone’s car or out of the back of their truck and they left without it.

Just to be safe, he said to himself, I’ll leave it there, and if it’s still there in the morning the owner will probably never be found for it.

Is there a time period you have to leave something before it becomes fair game?

There are a couple reasons why I agree with my friend grabbing that tool:

  1. It’s a cheap tool. It’s not like a phone or someone’s wallet.  If you find something expensive like that, you HAVE to turn it in to someone if you find it.  But this tool couldn’t have cost even $5.
  2. He waited. If that person realized in the last 12 hours that they had lost that tool and really needed it, they could have re-traced their steps and found it sitting there at least 12 hours later.  They didn’t come back for it.
  3. Something like that could puncture a tire or break a window if it got into the wrong hands. By picking it up out of the parking lot he could have saved another car owner from a headache.

Here’s why there could be an argument that he should have left it or turned it in:

  1. It wasn’t his. Regardless of how expensive it was, it belonged to someone else.  They paid for it.  He didn’t.


That’s pretty much the only reason I see for leaving it or turning it in.

Is this a case of finders keepers – losers weepers?  Or should my friend have done something else with that tool?

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