My mother found a necklace that she did not buy but rather was found in the road near a local mall and decided to keep it for herself. What would you have done if the same was found? She refused to ask the police if it belonged to anyone or at a store that sold it....
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Unless there would be some definitive means of associating the item with any particular individual who claimed to be the owner (such as requiring a receipt or a detailed description of the item from any purported owner), or even with a store from which the item might have been purchased (such as an establishment in the mall referenced in the question), as well as of assuring that the owner was even aware of the item's loss, I would say that trying to locate the true owner (despite being well-intentioned) would be subject to hindrances or even possible deception that would make the effort unlikely to genuinely succeed. Under those circumstances, I would say that keeping the found item would not be considered theft. However, if there were still doubt on the part of the individual, she might consider consulting with local police (for example), and inquiring of them about whether there would be a prescribed local procedure to be followed, as well as a length of time that would be required to elapse, before the found item could be considered legally hers if left unclaimed.
This is a good question that I do not have an answer. We stopped in a convenience store on our way through New Mexico a few years ago, and we were the only ones in there. I looked down and saw a 100 dollar bill lying on the floor. It was not mine, but I figured if no one claimed it, it belonged to the store. So I gave it to the girl at check out, and told her that I found it on the floor. If no one claims it, then it is up to you to do with it what you think is best and even to keeping it for yourself. I have no idea what she did with it if no one claimed it. She could have given it to the owner/manager of the store, or not. Knowing what to do is sometimes not clear. All I knew is it was not mine. And there was no one else there but two girls at check out. Both of them heard all I said.
I once went to a Salvation Army second hand store in Perth (Australia) and bought an as-new pair of shorts for $5. At home though I discovered $5 in one of the side pockets (probably left there by the first owner). I felt that it is not good to have bought a pair of shorts for nothing, so I went back to the store, explaining the story and handed the $5 back to the checkout lady. She was extremely pleased with this and her face just beamed with thanks. As for the pair of shorts - well I wore them very very often. They became my favorite item of clothing. After about four years I threw them out as they became too worn. I loved these pair of shorts. As of now my heart sings for joy when I remember this little event - especially the look of gratitude on the lady's face when I returned the $5. Maybe God blessed the pair of shorts as as result. He loves doing things like this.
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