Q: If I find a cell phone, can I contact the owner and charge a fee to return the phone to the original owner? Can I sue City of Pittsburgh for a fee? Is it lost and found property? Specifically, I am talking about cell phones. What type of Attorney is needed and who in Pittsburgh, PA practices such law? Is there a limit I can charge? Is this illegal? Can the Pittsburgh police threaten felony charges on me (because he’s doing an investigation on someone else who steals phones then charges people to get them back) whereas I found phone, negotiated a fee (price) to return phone to owner, owner agrees to price, then when meet police show up (obviously the owner called them beforehand because he wants to get phone back free) then police try to threaten me to give ID ‘because investigating similar case’ AND to give phone to officer for free for him to hand over to owner. When he asked for phone I said it’s XX $. The owner has agreed to a price to get his cell back. He then repeats he’s investigating a case similar to this and he’s including me in it -and some other talk. -then when I hand over the phone, he then says, ok so I just took you out of the investigation on that point so your no longer being investigated. Then as we talk casually for the next several minutes -he says I knew you weren’t the guy I’m investigating because we have video footage of him. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: There is a crime in Pennsylvania called “Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake.” 18 Pa.C.S.A. Section 3924 of the PA Crimes Code. The statute says that someone who finds the property of another is guilty of a crime “if, with intent to deprive the owner thereof, he fails to take reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it.” I think you are lucky the police did not arrest you and naïve to think you would get away. My suggestion is to cease this type of behavior.