If you find 20 euros or more, you should rather keep your hands off it

  1. bw24
  2. consumer

Created:

Von: Franziska Schuster

If you find money on the street, you are obliged to hand it over if it exceeds a certain amount (symbol image). © IMAGO / Jens Koehler

People who find money on the street often just pocket it. But beware: This can make you liable to prosecution.

Stuttgart – The small red coins always catch the eye, no matter how tiny they are. Everyone has probably found small sums of money on the street at some point. But what if it’s not a 20-cent piece but a 20-euro note or even a larger amount lying on the floor?

According to German law on finds, it is precisely regulated what may and may not be kept – and at what amount one is obliged to report as a finder. Otherwise there is trouble.

What to do with found money? Everything under 10 euros can be kept

Lucky coins and everything under 10 euros may be kept. The amounts are too small for it to be worth reporting a find. The situation is different with banknotes: 20-euro notes, for example, cannot simply be kept. That’s what the German Civil Code (BGB) says. In general: Amounts over 10 euros must be reported to the local lost and found office or to a police station and handed in. This rule of thumb also applies to items with a value of 10 euros or more.

If no owner reports within six months, the money goes back to the finder. But even if the owner reports, the finder gets a reward: up to 500 euros, he or she is entitled to five percent of the amount found as a finder’s fee. If more than 500 euros were found, the finder is entitled to three percent of the sum. A man from Baden-Württemberg* once made a very special find: He brought a backpack with 130,000 euros to the police (BW24* reported).

However, other rules apply to lost property on the Deutsche Bahn: If you find something on the bus or train, you are only entitled to a finder’s fee if the goods have a value of 50 euros or more. Up to 500 euros value there is 2.5 percent, from 500 euros 1.5 percent finder’s fee. You don’t necessarily have to go to the lost and found office here. The items can also be handed over to the bus driver or the train staff. A woman in Reutlingen did exactly the right thing: she found a bag full of money in a bus and gave it to the bus driver*.

Attention: The embezzlement of lost property is a punishable offence

Also important to know: The embezzlement of lost property is a punishable offence. Although one does not actively steal someone else’s property, such as in the case of a theft, one unlawfully adopts the money or the item found as one’s own.

Accordingly, embezzlement is also punished: Depending on the amount, the embezzlement can be punished with a prison sentence of up to three years or with a fine. If you want to avoid that, you should hand in everything over 20 euros – or just leave it where it is. There were also honest finders here: a couple handed in a found smartphone in a Kaufland branch*. The two did not want a finder’s fee. *BW24 is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

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