If you found a wallet containing $200 cash would you hand it in to the police? Aucklanders have proved they’re a helpful bunch by trying to get lost property returned to its rightful owner, as Jenny Ling reports.
Police are commending good samaritans who handed in thousands of dollars worth of electronic goods and mountain bikes over the Christmas break.
Auckland readers chose to shun the ‘‘finders keepers, losers weepers’’ mantra and did the right thing by giving lost property to the men in blue in December and January.
Two iPhones, a Nokia cellphone, an Olympus camera, two men’s watches, a Kindle e-reader and six wallets including one with a small amount of cash were handed in to the Ponsonby police station which covers Grey Lynn, Mt Albert, Westmere, Pt Chevalier and Mt Eden.
Ponsonby Sergeant Geoff Medland says people were generally honest, though it turns out many of the wallets handed in had been thrown from cars after they were stolen.
a reward or anything, they do it out of honesty and concern for others,’’ Mr Medland says.
‘‘In a lot of cases we are able to return them.
‘‘People are commended for doing that.’’
Onehunga Sergeant Rhys Smith says more than 10 wallets were handed in.
One contained $205 cash and others had between $5 and $45 in them.
Three iPhones, an iPad and a digital camera were among items found in Mangere, Royal Oak and Greenlane and handed into the Onehunga police.
‘‘People often bring in cash and cellphones,’’ Mr Smith says.
‘‘More dishonest people would keep the cash for themselves.
‘‘The people that come to the police station are very honest because they genuinely care and want to get the item back to the owner,’’ he says.
Items handed in to police are kept for about three months while inquiries are made to try and return them.
After that, personal items such as wallets containing credit cards are destroyed.
Drivers licences are sent to the New Zealand Transport Agency and expensive items like jewellery are auctioned with the money going to a consolidated government fund.
In the Mt Wellington area, three wallets, an iPad, three mountain bikes, three cellphones, a bag of power tools, a suitcase full of clothes and $40 cash were handed in to police.
Mt Wellington Sergeant Matt Smith says it is encouraging.
‘‘It balances out the nega
tive stuff we deal with on a day to day basis,’’ he says.
‘‘We always try and find the owners as quickly as we can.’’
Mr Smith encourages residents to hand in lost property because it’s ‘‘the right thing to do’’ and because they could be rewarded.
‘‘Sometimes if there’s no other identification and we can’t find the owner we give them a call and they get to keep it – there’s some karma there.’’
In his 20 years as a police officer Mr Medland has had cases where wallets containing $300 to $400 cash have been handed in.
And he points out another reason to be virtuous: ‘‘Pocketing lost property could result in charges of theft.’’
Honesty pays: Police say many Aucklanders will hand in a wallet full of cash rather than being tempted to keep it.