So, let’s just think about this question for a moment shall we? If you found an item, can you pawn it? Well, I mean, I suppose you could but I’m not sure that I would suggest it.
Why you might ask? Well, doesn’t it seems obvious? If someone stole something and didn’t want to take the fall for then later taking it to a pawn shop, couldn’t they just say that “They found it.”
It sounds a lot like a lie is what I’m getting at. It sounds like something you just made up when you don’t have an explanation for why you are in possession of an item.
If that is your story when you take something to a pawn shop and then it later turns out that the item was reported stolen or missing, you are going to get a visit from your local law enforcement agency and they aren’t going to believe your story.
I certainly would it, and I spend all day having people lie to me about things. (That is the hallmark of a career in the pawn industry after all.)
So, trust me when I tell you, if you just happen to find something valuable, you had better make sure that you try to find its rightful owner before you ever think about taking it to a pawn shop, resale shop, putting it on eBay, etc.
If you don’t at least make a documentable effort to try to find the item’s true, rightful owner and you get caught with whatever the item is, there is a very, even extremely, good chance that you are going to be charged with receiving stolen property at the very least.
So What Do You Do If You Found An Item
Step one, and I mean immediately, is to go to your local law enforcement agency and make a report or note of it. If they won’t take a full report on the item (and they likely won’t) make sure that they at least make a log entry about it.
The reason is this. If that item is later identified in a stolen property report and down the road, you sell whatever it is, that log entry at very least will give your story about “I just found it” some support.
You see, by going to the police department and making that report or getting that log entry made, what you are demonstrating is that you truly did try to find the rightful owner of the item and that you weren’t looking to profit from having found whatever this item was.
If you don’t do this, then you have zero documentation that your intention in owning this later-to-be-found stolen item wasn’t to profit from its possession, which would equate right back to why people steal – for financial gain.
Further more, consider making a posting on criagslist about the item and potentially the local paper if it’s free or at low or insignificant cost. If you do either one of these, make sure you print out and save copies of them. If you pay for an ad in the paper, save the receipt!
Remember, the idea is to show, to demonstrate, that you weren’t trying to defraud anyone of something and that you actively searched for the item’s rightful owner.
So When Can You Consider Selling Something You’ve Found
Well, the first thing you should do is consult your local law enforcement agency if you made a report with them. They will likely have a policy about these matters and you should know when they consider the item fair game.
If you do this (and you should) be sure that you record the time, day and officer you spoke to about selling the item as if it is later identified in a stolen or missing property case, these details could be the difference between you walking away without anything to worry about and you walking away in handcuffs.
That having been said, I reasonably expect that three to four months to be an acceptable amount of time to wait for the rightful owner to come forward and claim the item. After that point in time, I’d be pretty comfortable selling it personally, but again, follow whatever the police department that you’ve worked with have told you to do.