Finding a dollar or two someone dropped on the ground is fairly common, and it might be pretty easy to find the owner nearby.
But when a couple of bucks turns into hundreds or thousands of dollars, some may be tempted to keep the money.
That’s what happened in part of north Charlotte Thursday morning, when bystanders grabbed loads of cash that flew from metal containers after an armored truck dropped the money on heavily traveled Sunset Road, The Charlotte Observer reported.
While some may see the incident as an early payday, those who took money could face legal trouble.
Can you legally keep money that you find?
In North Carolina, taking lost property, including money, is considered theft if a person does not make a reasonable effort to find the owner, according to The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett in Charlotte.
In situations where money spills from armored trucks, the cash is considered under the ownership of the truck company.
Theft of goods worth less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor in North Carolina, punishable by up to 120 days in jail and a fine of $1,000, according to Giles Law, a firm based in Charlotte.
Stealing more than $1,000 is considered a felony, which carries a sentence of up to eight months for first-time offenders, according to the firm.
What should you do with money that you find?
If you find money and cannot locate the owner, you should turn it into law enforcement, according to HG.org, an online law information website.
After an armored truck spilled roughly $175,000 onto the road in Atlanta in 2019, those who pulled over to collect money were urged to return it to police, the New York Times reported. No one who turned in money was prosecuted.
If you find a large sum of money no one has claimed, you should consider hiring an attorney to ensure that it is returned to you if law enforcement cannot find the owner, HG.org says.
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