I found some stuff, can I keep it?

Forum for posting lost and found items only.
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Posts: 2423
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:39 am
Name: Cowper C
Location: Conway, AR

I found some stuff, can I keep it?

Post by Cowper » Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:08 am

[Note: I put a variation of this post under the “Arkansas Laws” thread; if you read that you don’t need to read this one too.]

So, can I keep it? Well, it depends...

You might ask, but don’t Marine Salvage laws say I can I just keep the stuff I find?

The short answer is no, that is not what they say!

Everyone has jumped on some minor item found in the river and happily proclaimed “River Bootie!’ with the full intention of keeping it. And IMHO, that’s completely OK, for items of minor value, with no name or phone number, where the chances of locating the rightful owner are slim-to-none.

But a little googling of Marine Salvage laws led me to the conclusion that it they are not a blanket “Finders Keepers” set of rules, they only say you are entitled to some compensation when you help recover someone else's stuff, with the compensation varying according to whether or not it was risky for you, and also depending on how much effort or money you expended doing the recovery. (UPDATE: I link to the specific Arkansas laws below, which only take a few minutes to read.) By law, you can remove the boat from the river, secure it at or near where found, and then demand a Salvage fee (which I think is 10% of the boat's value, but go read the law) from the owner. But let's think about this - so you found a boat pinned or “abandoned” on an Arkansas river, how can you know whether or not the owner already has other plans for recovery? How would you like it if someone washed your car, and then demanded payment, even though you didn’t ask them to wash it and were planning to wash it yourself the next day? Maybe the owner just went for help, or maybe they plan to come back when the water drops or the next weekend? You can't really know those things. So laws aside, I believe that what follows accurately reflects what most boaters consider to be good boating ethics:

If you find a trailer on the side of the road, with a flat tire, NO, you can't just keep it and all the contents. The rightful owner is coming back for it. If it is creating an unsafe situation, you CAN move it to a safer location where the owner will still find it.

If you find a car stuck in the ditch, even if the door is unlocked and the keys are in it, NO, you can't just take it. It is not your car.

If you find a 4 wheeler in the woods, it is not your 4 wheeler.

If you see a bicycle on the sidewalk and it isn't chained to a light pole, NO, it is not yours to take. That is stealing.

And if you find a boat pinned on the river, or sitting on the bank, NO, that is not your boat. If you can unpin it, then you can move it to higher ground and tie it up there. If you are afraid others will "steal" it, you can take it and report to local authorities and post on message boards like this one until you find the rightful owner. But it is not your boat. To just take it and keep it without making meaningful efforts to locate the rightful owner is stealing, not "salvage". The only exceptions I would see is if the boat has been totaled, to the point that it has no value and has become "river litter".

With found gear, some practical things come into play - if you find something of minor value like a low end paddle with no name or phone number, then no, I wouldn't expect anyone to spend an extraordinary amount of effort to try to locate an owner and return a $20 paddle. But with something like a boat, or a dry bag that contains items which might have sentimental value, there is no question in my mind as to what is right. Do everything you can to return the gear to the rightful owner!

LINK to the Arkansas Marine Salvage Laws:
http://law.justia.com/codes/arkansas/20 ... apter-102/
Trash: Get a little every time you go!

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Renee H
Posts: 839
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 9:48 pm
Location: Little Rock, AR

Re: I found some stuff, can I keep it?

Post by Renee H » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:11 am

Regarding bikes, go google TwinzTV on youtube - it is some funny freaking stuff. :clap: This only pertains to people stealing bikes though. I would post the link, but the language and content might get it removed. After my stuff got stolen out of a friend's car, I wanted to rig my vehicle, but alas, it is against the law....

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