Here’s why finders keepers is not an actual defense.
Earlier yesterday (Nov 19, 2021) an armored truck spilled bags of cash onto interstate 5 in Carlsbad, California.
Shortly after, drivers stopped their cars, piled out, and started to pick up handfuls of cash bringing traffic to a stand still.
Videos posted on social media documented the mayhem that ensued.
The two questions everyone who found money had is can they legally keep the money they found and, even though they know it’s stealing, what are the chances of them getting caught?
Per the investigation launched shortly after, it’s abundantly clear it’s 100 percent illegal to keep cash that drops from an armored truck and is akin to stealing property.
It’s not illegal to find money that’s dropped. It becomes illegal once you know it’s someone else’s money, and you do not turn it in within a reasonable amount of time.
“If a bunch of TVs fell from a truck across the freeway, you can’t just take the TVs.” said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.
Shortly after news of the incident leaked out to authorities, the California Highway Patrol, in partnership with the FBI, informed local news media they’re aware of what happened.
“The CHP would like to thank those motorists who have already returned money to their local CHP office and remind the public to do the right thing and return any money they found on the freeway. To return money, please contact the CHP Dispatch Center at (858) 637-3800,” CHP said.
As an example and because it’s their job, CHP officers arrested two at the scene of the cash grab because they locked themselves out of their own cars trying to presumably flee the scene of the incident.
CHP clarified those in trouble have 48 hours to turn themselves in to avoid charges.
Demi Bagby, the social media influencer’s video posted above, provided this Instagram story shortly after urging those who found money to come forward.
Less than 24 hours later, ABC -7 reports at least a dozen returned cash to CHP offices.
What are the chances you’ll get caught with illegally obtained armored truck money?
Back in 2019, $175,000 spilled out of an armored truck in Georgia.
“Channel 2 Action News reached out to DeKalb County Police Department to get an update on how much cash was returned to police – and it was just a few thousand.“
In this case, it would seem it’s extremely hard to connect someone with stolen cash once it’s gone.
Contrary to popular belief, serial numbers of individual cash bills aren’t recorded between transport locations.
“I work at a bank, and when we sell money an armored car picks it up and zero of the money in the sell is “trackable”.” says Redditor echoorains. “It would be basically impossible to track every bill, you would either have to write down every single serial number for every single bill, or copy it.”
I worked with armored trucks and large sums of money over 2 years. Says Redditor _clint-Beastwood_ Trucks move money from businesses to banks and from banks to the feds, and sometimes from feds to banks. At no point in that sequence are the serials written down.
When large amounts of dropped money are involved, like any trained investigation will do, police and FBI will use any photo and video evidence they can get their hands on to identify guilty culprits.
That means traffic cams, dash cam video, social media posts, and submitted witness testimony.
Before the proliferation of smartphones and dash cams, I’d say it’d be easier to get away with stealing handfuls of cash you’d found.
Today, with how much people document and share, often to their own detriment, it’s a lot harder to get away with this type of crime.
And, if you see some Instagram chick with her camera even remotely pointed in your direction at the scene of the cash drop while she takes a selfie/video, consider yourself caught and drop the money.
If you’re absolutely in the middle of nowhere, not a camera in sight, and you came up on some money truck cash that found its way there via the wind, you’d probably not get caught.
You’d only have your conscience to deal with.
But, with how many cameras are watching you in public at any one time, it’s not a matter of if you’ll get caught but when.