Tulsa couple learns Finders are not always Keepers

Wednesday, August 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

What would you do, if you found an envelope full of cash? A 21-year-old Tulsa man had to answer that question recently when he found $1,300, all in one hundred dollar bills. Most people think if they turn the money over to police and no one claims it within six months, it's finders keepers.
Turns out, that's no longer the case.

Adam Sanders found something recently in a grocery store parking lot that most people only dream of finding. "I reached over to close my door and saw an envelope by the tire,” Sanders explained. “My wife asked what it was and I said, 'cash.'"

Even though Sanders and his wife have a 16-month-old son with another baby on the way, and money right now for them is tight, they both wanted to do the right thing. "The first thing he said was, ‘I know the right thing, but I need some encouragement, because it's tempting,”’ said Sanders mother, Patty Pedersen. “I told him I was proud of him, and I just wish it had gone in their favor. They really needed it."

Unfortunately, the officer who came to collect the money didn't know the law had been changed back in 1993. The law now says if you find something, you can report it to police. However, you must hang on to it for six months, then if no one's claimed it, you can keep it. But if you turn it over to police, it becomes city property and belongs to the city forever. This means by law, the money, which is now in the police property room, must go into the city's general fund.

Sanders says his whole goal was to get the money back to the original owner, but if that couldn't happen, he would've preferred to keep the cash instead of it going to the city. "Of course, being his mother, I would love to see him get the money,” Pedersen said. “But I'd like it even better if the police were better informed of the changes to the law. I doubt they get calls like this very often. The officer that went to his house was totally surprised," she said.

Despite what's happened, Sanders says he's still glad he did the right thing and recommends that anyone who finds lost money or property to report it to police. Just know that the finders are the keepers, only if you hang on to the property rather than turn it over to police.

The mayor's office is looking into the matter to see if there's any flexibility in the law about where the money has to end up. The News on Six will update this story once a decision is made.