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Lost and Found in Oregon: Finders, Keepers? Losers, Weepers?

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What do you do when you find something of value, e.g. jewelry, an electronic device, etc.? Can you keep it?

You can always call the Oregon State Bar Information and Referral Service, or your local police or sheriff’s department, but if it’s “after-hours“:

Some interesting (and maybe even useful) sections of the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) to read are under these Index headings:

Lost Papers and Records and Lost Property

I posted on a related subject a little while ago, but thought it might be useful for you to see these ORS sections on your obligations if you find something of value. (The previous OLR blog post was How to Find Missing Documents: Channeling Your Inner Sherlock Holmes and this could be a companion to that one.)

Under Lost Property (in the Index), see Finders, duties, rights: ORS 98.005, 98.015, 98.025

Chapter 98 — Lost, Unordered and Unclaimed Property;Unlawfully Parked Vehicles

2007 EDITION

LOST, UNCLAIMED PROPERTY; PARKED VEHICLES

PROPERTY RIGHTS AND TRANSACTIONS

RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF FINDERS AND OWNERS
98.005 Rights and duties of finder of money or goods
98.015 Liability of noncomplying finder; forfeiture to county of unreclaimed money or goods
98.025 Rights of owner…”
(link to Chapter 98)

Obviously there is a lot more to the law than reading a statute (please remember that!), but it’s one place to start.

There may also be more to finding something than figuring out how to keep it, e.g. the exhilaration of a search for the real owner and the satisfaction when you find someone grateful to have been found.

See, for example: A Purple Heart comes home to Vernonia, by Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian, October 18, 2009, excerpt:

“... After clearing debris and weeds, Campbell saw something on the ground, lying near broken bits of concrete and a Dumpster. Campbell looked closer. He saw the words “Purple Heart.”
Campbell, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1992 to 1995, knew nobody would throw something like that away.

“When I opened it up,” Campbell recalls, “I was shocked the medal was still in there.” He turned it over and saw Gilbert Kay’s name.

Once Campbell and Beardall got back to Aloha, they started making phone calls — Campbell estimates about 30 in all — trying to track down somebody who knew Gilbert Kay.

Eventually, they contacted the Portland office of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden’s staff got involved and in a short time found and called Mike….” (read full story)