April 9, 2012

The honest waitress, the $12,000 tip, and the cops who tried to keep it because it smelled like marijuana.

After an unidentified man left a roll of cash on her table, the waitress, thinking he might have made a mistake, turned it into the police. Have you ever found money and considered giving it to the police to hold pursuant to a found-property procedure where, if no one claims the property within X days, you get to keep it? Would you turn in the $12,000... knowing that the policy has an exception for property that is considered evidence of criminal activity?

(Knutson had to sue, but she got the money back.)

49 comments:

Original Mike said...

"Knutson had to sue, but she got the money back."

How much did that cost?

edutcher said...

Diogenes blew out his lamp and went home.

I found a wallet and turned it in one time. It had ID and all, so that was the end of it, but, times like that, you do find out about yourself.

Revenant said...

I would never hand anything over to the police that I wouldn't mind having stolen.

MadisonMan said...

I would not turn a sizeable amount of money over to the police. I don't trust them. I might act differently if I actually do find money. The actual can be different from a hypothetical.

When I've found wallets, etc., in the past, I've called the owners directly. Why involve the police?

Sorun said...

if the property has suspected ties to criminal activity, it can be confiscated as evidence.

Perhaps confiscated as "evidence," but then it would be spent by the police department. How about some overtime, boys? Corrupting bullshit.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Greedy little pigs.

Cedarford said...

Dirtball pig cops.
Love it if they ran stories with names and faces of the greedy porkers that tried grabbing the loot for "police benevolent uses" - and how much it cost the woman to get her money back from them.

Local law enforcement is also quite keen to get the Feds in on certain cases because the fines and confiscations the Feds do have to be turned over to the "heroes" of local law enforcement by provisions in the Fed law.

Ann Althouse said...

I've found money a few times. When I have tried to do something that would get it back to whoever lost it, the person I dealt with in my effort at being a good person always tried to get the money away from me.

The first time this happened, I was a child, and I handed the money over to the person who worked at a lunch counter. I expected to be called a good person, but as I walked away, I heard them laughing at me for being dumb enough to give them the money.

This was a formative experience in my life, let me tell you.

On another occasion, I told someone at a front desk of a religious organization on campus that I'd found money outside their building. I did not hand over the money but left my phone number. I got calls from a man who claimed to have lost it, but he was unable to describe the money. (It was folded in an unusual way.) I refused to give it to him. He repeatedly called me, and in one call, I extracted the information that he was the husband of the woman at the front desk whom I'd spoken to.

So, that's what's happened to me.

traditionalguy said...

The local police are as crooked as anybody we meet. If they have a chance, they will COP the money in banks, or cars or houses whenever possible as a Legal Forfeitures.

A trend with the lottery craze ( the legal gambling ) has been to watch for restaurants/bars with video poker games. They are watched for 18 months to let profits accumulate, and then the LAW ENFORCEMENT guys descend on them and declare all the owner's money and property as forfeit for illegal gambling. Those cases are farmed out to certain Friends of the DA who are then awarded extraordinary fees for taking and selling the businesses and all other assets.


The tradition in many States now has become to declare all cash found in any search of totally innocent folks to be contraband and hope that no one will ever get a hearing on it.

It's those damn hearings with evidence, lawyers and written transcripts that are ruining things for the legal forfeiture scam artists, not to mention legal Neighborhood Watch Captains.

purplepenquin said...

It doesn't say so in this story, but I read elsewhere that the waitress followed the man out and tried to give the box back to him, but he said she could keep it. However, she still decided to turn it into the police after she saw how much money was in it.


Anywhos, this is yet another example of how bad laws make for bad cops. End the War on Drugs and most nonsense like this will go away.

Hagar said...

Did the City pay the court costs?

Mary Beth said...

According to the ABC News story linked to at the bottom of the FindLaw article, the woman filed a lawsuit but the money was given back before she had to go through with it.

The police were probably hoping that she would be grateful for the $1000 "reward" for turning in the "evidence".

She had first tried to return the money to the woman who left it but was told by the woman, "No I am good, you keep it." I think that would have been enough for me to decide to keep it. She thinks it may have come from people at her church, left through an anonymous person.

bagoh20 said...

We're from the government, and we're here to help.

rhhardin said...

The bureaucracy is not set up for good deeds.

Pogo said...

Drive through Illinois with an out-of-state license and you risk having their "drug-sniffing" dog "find" "residue" of pot or other drugs in your car, and now your car is theirs to keep.

The TSA is similar kleptrocracy, routinely stealing things from luggage.

For that matter, so does Congress, on a grander scale.

David said...

Most I ever found was a $20 bill on the ground. I kept it.

Meade said...

$20... kept it.

Same here.

David said...

I take that back. I found a wallet in a cab in Paris once with a lot of money in it. It also had ID so I called the owner (a Parisian) and told him I had it. He offered me a reward and I turned it down. Oh wonderful me.

My wife once found a purse in a taxi in Chicago with over $600. Also an ID. We kept the cash but mailed the woman the purse and a check for the cash that had been in it. Oh wonderful wife.

I've also found several lost dogs and made considerable efforts to return them. People were even more grateful to get their dogs back than money.

David said...

But $20 with no ID? That's mine.

$220? I guess (maybe depending on where found.)

$2200--turn it in.

I'm not sure what the moral lesson of this is.

David said...

Probably that I'm just a small time crook.

David said...

I also had a cabbie in Chicago who I gave $10 for a short cab ride and told him to keep the change.

He gave it back. I'd handed him a $100 by mistake.

So I gave him $20.

That was a nice moment.

David said...

When you get old you have lots of memories.

Rusty said...

If you find garbage bags full of cash in the ditch next to the highway, congratulations. If there happens to be a severed head in one of the bags. Turn in the bag with the head.
Of course this scenario was more prevalent in Florida in the 80s, but still.

David said...

Suppose, Rusty, there is a head in one bag and the money in another? What then?

Pogo said...

Well, don't keep the head, right?

Meade said...

It was in a bar. In Chapel Hill. I took the $20 and bought a harmonica. Played the harmonica on the street. For free. Some guy walked up and said, hey I'll give you $20 dollars if you'll stop playing that damn harmonica.

Win, win, win!

prairie wind said...

One morning at work, someone had found a dollar bill in the parking lot and left it at the front desk. Lots of chuckles as people saw that dollar laying there. It isn't there any longer; someone must have claimed it.

jimbino said...

Of course, the truth in Amerika is that the gummint and cops are usually the enemy, especially when it comes to our rights to enjoyment of sex, drugs, and R&R.

We depend on the shady trade in porno, drugs and alcohol to satisfy our urges born of natural rights to control our own bodies.

In no way should any person ever think he is justified in assisting cops to wage war against victimless crimes, which include nudity, consensual sex, boozing, pornography, masturbation and so on.

Especially as long as mutilation of baby's genitals and cop wife-beating, non-consensual crimes against innocents, are fo pervasive and free from prosecution.

prairie wind said...

When you forfeit money or possessions to law enforcement and you want them back, the burden is on you to prove that the money/goods were obtained legally. Is that crazy or what? That is true even if the cops do not charge you with anything.

Just Lurking said...
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Just Lurking said...
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Dust Bunny Queen said...

When you get old you have lots of memories

When you get older you can't remember where you put them.

Just Lurking said...

End the War on Drugs and most nonsense like this will go away.

I tend to agree. The "war on drugs" has become a great money maker for feds and cops; and it encourages them to disregard the constitutional rights of citizens, in the pursuit of that money. There have to be better solutions to the problem of drug abuse, than the current failed policies.

Drive through Illinois with an out-of-state license and you risk having their "drug-sniffing" dog "find" "residue" of pot or other drugs in your car, and now your car is theirs to keep.

I read that article. It's disturbing.

Original Mike said...

"When you get old you have lots of memories

Yeah, but which of them really happened?"


(Oh, no. The word verification blob is back. Two attempts to post this.)

Christy said...

A ski pal found around $400 on the slopes. He told the local lost and found but declined to let them hold the money, even when they strongly insisted. No one called to claim the money. I've never found money, but I've lost a ton of it.

A cousin was the state's lawyer who went after the vehicles involved in drunk and drugged driving. She caught a lot of grief when it turned out one drunk was driving his girlfriend's van which the girlfriend had been given because her son was the poster boy for some pitiful disease.

Is it still true that an incredible percentage of cash has been contaminated with cocaine, spread through all those counting machines?

Methadras said...

As they say, "No good deed goes unpunished."

As Ann also said, she got laughed at for being 'dumb' for turning in money that wasn't hers as a child. Formative, very formative. I also do what she does if I find money. If I can, I leave my phone number if I find a wallet or try to get a hold of the person. If they can't answer the right questions, then it belongs to me.

If I found say a big bag of money, I'm never going to turn it in and that's the honest truth of that. This story would confirm my bias.

bagoh20 said...

I would keep any money regardless of amount unless I knew I could get it to it's rightful owner.

Because, I know I will make better use of it than the police or the government. In fact, knowing how I would use it would make it immoral to give it to them. Which is how I feel about most taxes too.

Paul said...

Forfeiture laws are a CRIME. Our cops are slowly becoming just a bunch of corrupt Mexican police.

It's not about safety or justice but about MONEY.

The cops here are not as blant as in Mexico, but the outcome is the same.

Dante said...

The moral of the story is that it becomes harder to do the right thing when others are doing the selfish thing. If everyone is cheating on their taxes, or the government is unfairly taxing you, why bother to pay taxes properly, if you can get away with it?

(Am I the only one in the entire universe who thinks welfare artificially encourages laziness, some people resent paying money for lazy people, and so it sours the whole country a bit? I sometimes wonder how people can give out huge amounts of fattening foods at the food shelter, to fat people, or money to homeless people when there is a soup kitchen right down the street).

ndspinelli said...

I found some pot that had the smell of money. I kept it.

Ralph L said...

Ann Althouse said...
So, that's what's happened to me.
Who cares about you, what happened to the money?

A local, small town police chief was busted as part of a ring that owned several illegal video poker machines around the area.

Twice in the last month, I've undercounted the cash deposit by several hundred and the bank has caught it. That's reassuring about them, but I seem to be making more stupid mistakes than I used to.

EDH said...

(It was folded in an unusual way.)

Notice Althouse still won't reveal how the money was folded.

Well, it was folded in a triangle, and had the picture of an dead white guy on it.

EDH said...

Ralph L said...
Twice in the last month, I've undercounted the cash deposit by several hundred and the bank has caught it. That's reassuring about them, but I seem to be making more stupid mistakes than I used to.

Where's that money, you silly, stupid old fool?! Where's that money?!

D'you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison! That's what it means.

One of us is going to jail! Well, it's not gonna be me!


Okay, maybe I'm overreacting just a bit.

shirley elizabeth said...

When a cop knocked on our door at 10 pm and asked for me it freaked my husband out. He was returning my Costco card and a 20 dollar bill I had lost on a walk to the park that someone had found and turned in. We were very grateful, as we were very short on money and the $20 was intended to pay a friend for something (can't remember now. only the relief).

John Lynch said...

I'm honest. I leave notes when I bump into cars in the parking lot. I return money. If people accidentally tip too much I tell them. Every man has his price, and mine is pretty high.

And, actually, my experience has been good. People appreciate honesty. It also keeps you out of trouble, overall. Being compulsively dishonest eventually catches up with you, and the consequences usually aren't worth it. Trying to escape consequences often leads to more trouble. Not always- I know people who got away with a lot- but it's not a good long-term plan. Having a reputation for honesty helps when something goes wrong.

Honesty has its benefits, but ultimately it's about your own standards. How do you want to live your life? What kind of person are you? I care a lot more about that. I can always make more money. It's a lot harder to earn self-respect.

See also Francis Fukayama on low-trust and high-trust societies.

John Lynch said...

I don't expect other people to be honest- I don't control them. But I do control my own actions.

chuck b. said...

I once found the wallet of a Danish tourist stuffed with money and blank checks. I mailed it to him and it was there when he got back from vacation. He mailed me a thank you note...and two Christmas tree ornaments!

Sue D'Nhym said...

"So, that's what's happened to me."

Yet you still became a Democrat.

Kit said...

The moral of the story is that it becomes harder to do the right thing when others are doing the selfish thing.

Not, at all, how I try to look at things. John Lynch, thanks for your post - it's how I try to be.