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My daughter found a ring in the street the 3 months ago. She tried to contact ALL neighbors in the neighborhood multiple times, and one of the neighbors didn't answer the door EVERY time she would knock on the door. So after 2 months of trying to find the rightful owner, we decided to pawn the ring. We took it to the local pawn shop, sold it, and got $225 for the ring, now 2 weeks later, one of the neighbors came over and said that they heard and saw on facebook that my daughter had sold a ring, and they wanted it back because it was their's.
She had tried to contact these people for 3+ times to see if it was their ring and each time (with both of their vehicles in the drive way) they didn't come to the door or answer at all. Then after we had sold it, they came over because 1 of the neighbor girls told them that she had the ring.
My question, are we on the hook here? I believe this would be more of a civil matter than a criminal matter am I correct in assuming that? Just wanna know what I am looking at here, as my name is on the pawn slip.
Thanks in advance.
You are correct that it's civil. The neighbor would have to somehow prove ownership. It may be the ring in a photograph, markings on the ring, receipt or something.
In PA , to win a civil suit you only need to prove your case with a preponderance of the evidence. That means if you cna convince the judge of being 51% right , you win. So , simply because you couldn't get them to answer the door , doesn't absolve you of any responsibility/liability.
What if it was your ring and they just didn't cath you at the right time ?
We also have an " unjust enrichment " law that would very likely be against you. You may have attempted to notify the neighbor but you still profited from them losing their property. An unintentional act.
I am using PA law as my basis but since PA and VA are both Commonwealths , they may have some very siminlar laws.
If they can PROVE it is thier ring , at least give them the $$ back.
Not a leo, but here's one of the defs of theft in AZ.
4. Comes into control of lost, mislaid or misdelivered property of another under circumstances providing means of inquiry as to the true owner and appropriates such property to the person's own or another's use without reasonable efforts to notify the true owner;
I have no clue what reasonable effort is or if the street is means of inquiry (but 3+ times seems to be the double edged sword as it shows effort but also a belief it might be theirs). I also don't know what would happen if they filed a police report. I think you need to at least give them the money and pawn slip if you are sure it's their ring. I don't think you have a right to profit from it once the owner is established is my own personal belief.
I thought most police departments had a process for reporting found property and then transferring ownership to the finder if it's not claimed within a reasonable amount of time? Or is that just the movies? Did your neighbor report to the police when they lost it?
If they report it stolen and tell the police where to find it in the pawn shop what happens? I would think ownership would go to your neighbor if they can prove it and the pawn shop would go after you for the money. I dunno.