Finding’s not keeping – it’s stealing; if you know where to find the owner or do not take any steps towards discovering the owner of the lost article, such as giving information to the police, or advertising the discovery in such a way as to give the owner an opportunity of recover his loss. If, however, you have taken proper steps towards finding the owner but without success, no one has a better claim to the article than you.
“Possession is nine point of the law.”
If you happen to come across valuables that have been abandoned or stolen from their rightful owners many years ago, such a discovery is called a treasure trove. No one has a right to retain treasure trove. It belongs to the Crown. The Crown will reward the finder of treasure trove who voluntarily delivers it up.
If you give a cabman a sovereign in mistake for a shilling and he takes advantage of your mistake, he is guilty of theft.
If you find yourself in possession of a bad con, you have no right to try and pass it. If you are doubtful about it, you should take it to a bank or to Somerset House.
If a person tenders you a gold or silver coin which you suspect to be light or counterfeit, you may cut, bend or break it. If you are wrong you will have to accept it. If you are right the other person must bear the loss.
You must not insert an advertisement offering a reward for the recovery of property which has been lost or stolen and ending with the words ‘No questions asked’, because no one may compound a felony which is what it practically amounts to. But you may offer a reward and you need not question the person who returns the article to you, although you may suspect him of having stolen it for the sake of the reward.
“Trespassers will be prosecuted.” It’s all nonsense unless you are trespassing in search of game, or have done damage to the grass or to growing crops. Sometimes one may trespass upon a person’s private property without being aware of the fact. When in such a case it is brought to your notice, you should offer to leave by the nearest way. You are not bound to go back by the way you came. If you are accused of having done any damage to the grass or the footpath, you should tender a small coin as compensation for such damage as you may have caused.
A man has no right to set spring guns or man traps for the purpose of catching trespassers. Neither has he the right to have a dangerous pit in his field within twenty-five yards of the road.