"Finders keepers" may not always be the case when it comes to stray money left on the ground. 23-year-old Nicole Bailey discovered that the hard way after picking up a stray bill from the ground.
While shopping, Nicole discovered £20 bill laying in a store freezer.
She did what most of us naturally would do, she picked it up. Not knowing who it belonged to, she pocketed the found money and continued about her shopping.
What she didn't know was the bill had been dropped by a wheelchair-bound customer, who had alerted staff when he discovered his cash was missing.
After checking the security cameras, it was discovered that Nicole had picked up the money. Police called the woman, who was a regular shopper at the store, and she came in voluntarily for a meeting.
"The manager recognized the woman, who was a regular customer," Prosecutor Ruth Bentley said.
What she found out at the meeting surprised not only her, but everyone who has ever picked something lost off the sidewalk.
When Nicole, an HR worker, arrived at the shop, she initially denied finding the money, but admitted pocketing the bill after she was shown the security camera footage.
“She didn’t know who the money belonged to. People don’t realize that picking up something you have found amounts to a theft. She has been quite naive in doing so,” her lawyer Simon Dykes said.
Having no previous convictions, Nicole plead guilty to the theft.
Hoping to get a word of warning, she ended up getting 6 months probation and she also had to pay $283 for her legal costs. Without knowing she was committing a crime, she had to face the consequences of her actions.
Dykes said that police should have just simply cautioned Nicole, but instead chose to issue punishment for her crime.
Chief Inspector Karen Stevenson defined the term theft as "the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it".
“We’d actively encourage any member of the public who picks up money that’s been dropped to be honest. Do the right thing by taking all reasonable steps to try to find the owner,” Stevenson said after the ordeal was over.