In English law there is no such thing as abandoned property. Now of course that may be a perfectly valid proposition for American law, I'm curious to know what the accurate legal position is, and in other countries.
Turns out there's a big difference between the way abandoned property is handled in the UK and the US. Here are articles about each:
Cultural difference? What cultural difference? Theft is wrong; restoration of property is right! Bacca, in your earlier post you assumed that the item had been "thrown away" ("perhaps due to painful memories"). I'd say it is far, far more likely that these were the remnants of a larger haul of stolen goods. The only morally right response would be to attempt to establish the facts. Taking "possibly stolen" goods to a pawn shop without inquiry is plain wrong! The original poster also referred to picking up a gold chain from the ground and selling it for hundreds of dollars rather than handing it in to the authorities. And here I have been all this time, living with the assumption that normal folk anywhere in the world wouldn't opportunistically take property that isn't theirs. Lesson learned!
Why would anyone throw away stolen goods? How can you assume "far more likely"? How likely is it that thieves throw away their goods?
If the poster says they were in the trash, that's what we go by, and do not try to assume anything beyond that. Here, anyone can come pick through the trash. There are many stories of good stuff found in the trash. Or on the sidewalk next to the trash. One woman found a disputed Rembrandt.
Last week someone found a pearl bracelet in the ocean.......
I totally disagree with you that someone who picks something out of the trash should stop his life and ascertain whether they were actually thrown out. Why not assume they were thrown out?
purveyor of pearls
Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
If you check the law, both there in the US and here, picking through the trash and taking stuff is theft. Sorry Caitlin et al. I can think of lots of reasons why stolen goods could be dumped.
'i found these in the trash with a bunch of other jewlry'.
Why not hand in the hoard and it will be the finder's legally and with good title in six months
Sorry, but there is something odd in there.
If you check the law, both there in the US and here, picking through the trash and taking stuff is theft.
I'm sure some jurisdictions have laws against taking things from the trash, just as I'm sure others don't, but I don't know of a blanket prohibition against it. It would have to be a regulation at the federal level and even the Supreme Court has said the police don't need a warrant to take things from your trash as long as it's at the curb. Can you share a link, please?
Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
In this area it is quite common for people to take things abandoned at the curbside: furniture, kids' old, outgrown yard toys and such. No one considers it theft as it was plainly thrown away. If one is in doubt one can ring the doorbell and ask (for example, a child's bicycle-- the child who lives there may have left it there without thinking.) But generally speaking if it is curbside with other trash, it is being thrown out and can be taken by someone who has a use for it. It's just another way to recycle.
Dumpster diving is prohibited by most businesses because (I would think) of its being hazardous to the "diver" (broken glass etc.) and the potential for liability to the property owner.
The OP didn't say where the trash was where they found the pearls, but my feeling is that the OP was entitled to keep what he found in the trash-- since it was in a bag with with junk watches, it seems the owner disposed of it for reasons of their own. We had a number of items we threw away after cleaning out my father-in-law's home after his death; broken bits of costume jewelry and such. It is possible this was true of the person who threw these things away. Maybe they did not like the pearls and did not want to be bothered with them. It is not as though the pearls were in a sack with a quantity of obviously valuable items-- if so, then I might wonder if a burglar had dumped the sack to escape being caught with the items on his person. But a little bag containing mostly junk? Trash.
On the other hand, I would see valuable jewelry found on the street as something to try to restore to the owner if at all possible, whether by advertising in the Lost and Found ads or by taking it to the police department. The police however would not make any effort to find the owner of (say) a gold chain -- they would just wait to see if someone reported losing it.
It is not OK to moralize at another member who told the "wrong" story. We do that and people don't come back and other people start to think moralizing at members over here is OK. We will teach people to only tell us, "I found them in a box from my grandmother." Will we then ask if they shared them with their siblings? Or reported them to the grandmother's executor? Is is our business?
I do not like the tone of this thread since the questioning and assuming began. I can't think of a single reason a thief would throw away stuff unless the cops were hot on their trail or some other such melodrama. I can think of lots of reasons why people would throw away jewelry, even if they regret it later.
If this were an important pearl, then provenance counts. For asking what kind of pearls, provenance is not needed. If we are going to guess, my guess is some new widower threw them away because he didn't want to sort and had no offspring who wanted anything. He forgot them when the goodwill came to take the clothes, then didn't want to call them again for one little box, so he threw them it the trash, not caring if someone picked them up. Maybe he hoped they would.
My story is as good as yours and it doesn't call the morals of another member into question.