Find a £20 note and get a criminal record?

If you found a £20 note, would it be “finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers”? Well it was “finder’s weepers” for a woman who picked up a £20 note off the floor of a shop and stuck it in her pocket. She’s now got a criminal conviction for theft.

The crime of theft requires you to be “dishonest”. The law says that you won't be dishonest if, when you find something, you reasonably believe that by taking reasonable steps the true owner could not be traced.

So, find a £20 note in the street and you could be all right. After all, you can't see anyone looking around as if they just dropped it. It hasn't got anyone’s name on it. And whoever lost it probably can't positively identify it.

But, find the same £20 note on the floor of a shop, and you’d be expected to at least tell the shopkeeper, so that if anyone reports losing it, the shopkeeper will know that you’ve got it. That’s what the woman should have done. Instead of putting it in her pocket without saying a word, and getting caught on camera.

A conviction for theft can seriously affect your life: because you may need to disclose it when you apply for a job. So the moral of this tale is? “See a pin (or a £20 note) and pick it up…then tell the shopkeeper.”