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Ask a Trooper: What should you do if you find a wallet?

November 10, 2018

Sgt. Troy Christianson

Question: My father found a wallet at a big retail store while on vacation and was concerned about handing it off to the staff there, instead deciding to contact the owner directly. He was eventually pulled over by local police, with the wallet in hand, and was told he could be brought up on theft charges. What should he have done? His intent, clearly, was to ensure that the staff at the store wasn’t going to pocket any cash from the wallet before putting it in their safe, but that’s not how the police perceived it.

Answer: He should have turned it over to a supervisor at the store where it was found or reported it to the local police department or sheriff’s office.

If the wallet had been stolen and discarded where your father found it, it would be considered stolen property. Explaining to law enforcement how and where the wallet was found might clear him as a suspect of possessing stolen property. If further evidence is required, law enforcement could obtain video footage from the store that would support his statement.

Wallets, purses and property found on state highways or freeways have been turned into troopers and Minnesota State Patrol office staff employees. We examine the property in an attempt to find a form of identification that could be used to contact the owner.

If you lose a wallet or purse that contains credit cards, contact your credit card company to report it missing as soon as possible. Contact your state’s Department of Vehicle Services to report your driver’s license missing and to request a duplicate license. If the wallet or purse is stolen, report it to your local law enforcement agency. A report will be generated and the items will be returned to you if found.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

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