Lost and Found

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Last year on St.Kilda beach I found a Russian nesting doll, also known as a Matryoshka or babushka doll. The “nested doll principle” links by association, objects within similar objects whether man made or naturally occurring, a bit like fractals. In artistic terms “mise en abyme” is a French term that translates as “placing into the abyss” and is a technique that uses an image comprising a smaller image of itself that in theory could go on for infinity. The Russian doll  did look slightly out of place in the sand on the beach so I took it home before the waves could wash it out to sea; a little found object that was a bit weather worn. Walking around St.Kilda I have found numerous coins from far away places, but no, not a great treasure trove.

Photo Coutesy of squidoo.com

What would you do if you found a large amount of money? It is a topic of conversation that you hear occasionally. In 2010 a poll was taken to find out what people would do if they found $100,000. The choices were, declare it to the police or not tell anyone and keep it. According to the newspaper poll, the result was that about 60% of respondents would not have handed the money in.

The basis of this scenario was the case of a Melbourne couple who purchased a $15 suitcase from a Salvation Army store and discovered $100,000 hidden in the lining. A separate account was a package enclosing $6,000 found in 1995 on the light rail tram between the city and St.Kilda. After being handed into the police and not claimed within three months the person who found the money was allowed to keep it. A year later, in 1996, there was another large find at the Balaclava Railway Station. Two men found $200,000 buried in a plastic drum. A week later a second drum was found containing an amount of money similar to the first. Again it was handed in to the police and extensive media coverage followed. No one came forward to claim the money and the men were able to keep it.

According to the law it is not just a matter of “finder’s keepers”. The person who finds money has some responsibility to make a reasonable effort to return it and then has the option after three months to claim it. Failure to do so, as happened with the suitcase couple, could incur a charge of “theft by finding”.

More recently, in August this year, a mysterious case surfaced when $100,000 was found by cleaners in a toilet at the Channel Nine Building. A few days later and with more blocked sewerage pipes, thousands of dollars more in cash was revealed. The police are considering it to be “dirty money”. Humour aside, it is understandable that the proceeds of crime would account for larger sums of money remaining unclaimed. It is difficult to imagine other reasons why such large amounts of cash would be hidden or discarded.

In the end it’s up to the individual whether they would try to secretly keep a large find, like it was a lucky lottery win or hand it in. Then there’s the question of how much good or bad karma you stand to gain.

 By M.Sweeney     

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