Is this stealing?

If you see someone drop some money and in the situation it’s clear they’re not going to retrieve it (say they’re walking away) or even notice it’s gone for some time, don’t inform them and a few minutes later take the money, did you steal it or just find some money?

Is this a joke? Of course it’s stealing.

Yes, it’s absolutely stealing.

Definitely stealing.

I would agree it is stealing. Very straightforward, not sure why it is even in question.

Yes, it’s stealing. Ashamed to say I’ve taken advantage of this specific situation, but, yes, it’s stealing.


Huh? It’s certainly a dickish move, but it’s not stealing. You have no legal duty to inform someone that they dropped something. Once they’re gone, the money is lost, and it’s finders keepers. Of course, you are supposed to report what you find as lost property, but that’s not often done.

Yeah, I tend to be pedantic about such things - it’s a very uncharitable and insensitive thing to do, but not ‘theft’ - you’re refusing to help someone fix their own mistake, though you could easily do this, on the grounds that it would profit you to have them not realize their own loss yet.

Not as bad a thing, ethically or morally, as taking that money out of his pocket, but far from a good thing - it’s selfish and kinduv amoral. (As in, disinterested in the right thing to do.)

I still say it’s stealing.

It is stealing because you know the actual owner of the property. It is clearly not the same as finding the money.

What if you witness the person dropping the money, and see someone else pick it up and walk away? If you don’t say anything to the original owner, are you now an accessory to a crime?

And what about a more ambiguous situation where you witness the money falling from his pocket while you’re on the second floor of an office building. If you sprint down the stairs you might be able to catch the owner. Does it change anything if you’re really tired and/or sick, and not in good condition to be sprinting?

Is it legally stealing? Probably not. Is it morally stealing? Hell to the yes!

Bingo. Put aside the various legal statutes that might apply in various places.

Actually it is very clearly legally stealing, and perhaps not morally stealing. See the above cite for the legal end. As for the morality of the act, I recently ran a study that contrasted the blameworthiness of various “theft” offenses. This sort of act was at the dead bottom of the list (and attracted the least punishment). That result does not necessarily reflect a moral judgment, but it’s a reasonable enough proxy that I would be inclined to think that a meaningful proportion of the population does not think this is “stealing” in the same way as swiping an item from a store is stealing.

Depends how much money and how sick you are. Would you want a sick person to run down two flights of stairs to tell you that you dropped some money? $1, $20, $100?

I would want to be notified about anything over $100. If it’s less and the person is sick then it’s my loss. I should have taken better care of the money.

As for the OP, it is stealing. You are taking something you know is not yours.

What if you know that a particular part of a wooden bridge will break if anyone stands on it for more than one minute. Anyone that falls off the bridge will die. Jim steps on the weak spot of the bridge.

Now if you see Jim standing there, and don’t tell him to move, did you kill Jim? I would say so.

I would say no. Failing to save someone is not the same as killing them yourself.

I keep the money, let Jim plummet to his death, and then - to top off this hypothetical day - I’d probably sleep with your girlfriend. But do I think of myself as a Bad Person? Well, I’m just more morally flexible than most.

What ever happened to the quaint idea of asking a friggin’ lawyer? “Is x a crime?” is not exactly subject to drive-by opinions, is it?

p.s. IANAL, but even I know you have both the act and the intent, so you hang.

It’s definitely stealing. As an example of this being against the law, Pennsylvania has recently allowed casinos (excepting table games like they always do for some reason) to operate, and I’ve seen several newspaper articles about people in the new casinos picking up tickets lost on the floor by others, and getting arrested when they tried to cash out. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t see it drop to the floor and have no idea who lost it. It’s still theft.


Hmm. Paying a lawyer a couple hundred dollars for the answer to an idle curiosity versus posting about it on the Internet and getting a free answer in less time than it would take to set up an appointment with an attorney. Let me think about that one. :rolleyes: