What would you do if you found $1,000 in an unmarked paper bag?


Return to Issue 881, January 26, 2019

What if you were out for a walk and came upon a plain paper bag filled with $1,000 in cash, and there was absolutely no way to identify who it belonged to? What would you do? Would you turn it over the police? Or would you just keep it?

If you can think of another option, please check “other” and leave a comment.

Return to Issue 881, January 26, 2019

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Merrily Robinson

I would keep it while posting a lost item in a brown bag!! Owner would have to know!!


I would keep it


Give at least 10% to my church and invest the rest.

Dick Z

I’d tell the local substation police that I found some money and if anyone could ID the amount and what it was contained it, they could have it. If no one claimed it, I’d keep it.

Peter Brubaker

I really don’t know, and to be HONEST I don’t think many people really know, until they find it. It’s so easy to say what you would do when it costs you nothing, but when you have the money in your hot little hand your answer could be much different.

Sharon B

I would definitely keep it in a place where some of it would go out to those who need it and for the animal rescues who definitely need funds


Hmm, I know… I KNOW!!! I would make a Forum post right here on RV Travel and hope that most responses match my intentions 😉
Either that, or find the best response agreed by the posters and do that myself!


I would hang on to it and put it in a home safe. Wait til I heard anything in the paper, on TV or something otherwise. If I didn’t hear from anybody or paper or TV, I would just let it sit in my safe until at least a year went by. Then, it’s mine. Finders, keepers.


50 yrs ago I found a three 20 bills on sidewalk outside my parents home. I sat and waited on front porch to see if anyone came by. About forty minutes later I saw a young woman walking down the sidewalk with her head down looking around. When she got near I walked towards her and asked what she was looking for. She told me she lost some money and how much it was (she lost four $20) I gave her the money I found. She was relieved. She never found the other bill. I felt good returning it to… Read more »

James Westfall

keep some ; give most to charities

Mark Sanders

Donate to an established charity under the provision that they hold for a period of time, if the owner showed up…..


I would look at local public media – not authorities (don’t trust) – my conscience would let me donate to animal shelter.


I would tell the authorities, and tell them if anyone inquired to have them call me.


What paper bag? What money? Most brown paper bags I ever found had an empty bottle of booze in it…

Cactus Jack

I’d leave it alone. Might be part of a drug deal. May only be $1K, but for a small-time loser thinking he’s gonna be a big time high dollar drug dealer someday, that $1K is a lot of money. And he’s gotta make sure everyone “respects him! IOW that $1K is nothing to a high volume dealer, but is it worth your life to find out?

Diane Blair

Post it on social media and flyers, just don’t divulge the amount or complete description of the item. I did this twice with individual diamond earrings, one was worth $500. After 3 months, it was legally mine.


I would look on FB and social media for someone who lost money and they would need to describe amount and container (and anything else I could think of). If we couldn’t place the money with anyone, then 10% to our little church and 90% to charity. Definitely would not keep it.


I also would keep it while attempting to locate the person who lost it. Depending on where I was an add in the local paper or Craig’s list. The only problem with that is, in all probability, a needy person losing that type of money rarely uses a computer or buys a newspaper. Almost every piece of money in circulation will have traces of illegal drugs so all could be seized by the local police. Again, it would depend on where I was and when I found the money. Gifts for kids at Christmas, St. Jude’s hospital, the local food… Read more »

George Stewart

It’s hard to believe that someone would lose that much money and not be looking for it, so I would keep my eyes and ears open to try to find the rightful owner. If unable, or on a short schedule where I had to move on, I would contact local authorities and inquire as to the procedure (without telling them who I was, of course). I couldn’t keep the money, so if the owner did not claim it, I would try to make sure it went to the Salvation Army or Red Cross to help people in need. Fortunately, I… Read more »

Bill Walker

If I found the $1,000 I would probably give it to a deserving charity.

Gigi Raygor

It would depend on the circumstances, if somewhere like a park I would check to see if anything had been reported missing. If it was in an isolated place in the middle of nowhere I would check with the police. I would check lost and found ad’s in the areas, if nothing came of all that I would keep it and think it was my lucky day.

Marianne Edwards

Notify local authorities only if they will provide a receipt and info on what they do with it if it’s not claimed. If someone comes forward to claim it, the authorities can best determine if they’re honest but also ask them to state the amount, approximate denominations of the bills, and approximate location where I found it.


I’m surprised by the number of people that don’t trust the authorities. What does that say about the state of affairs in this country of ours?

John Koenig

That ALL THREE BRANCHES of our Federal government are a JOKE and, that lack of leadership has, for DECADES, been filtering down through MANY state and local governments. The primary concern for just about every elected official seems to focus on getting themselves reelected. Of course, that has all been allowed to happen because THE VOTERS have failed in their basic civic responsibilities to monitor (and remove when necessary), officials that care more about their (the officials’) interests over of the interests of America and Americans. Big business has bought, and now controls, all the media (TV, Cable, Radio, Newspapers,… Read more »

Tommy Molnar

Exactly right, John.

Sharon B

Ditto on that!

Sharon B

Quite crappy. Did not even know the USA still has state of affairs. hmmmm


I would keep the bag but notify the authorities. The property would be available to anyone who clamed and provided a detail description. If not claimed in 60 days, its mine.

Sherry Dawson

Since I walk so poorly that I use a 4-wheel mobility scooter to get around, I always carry plastic bags with me and use my reacher gadget to pick up all the trash I find when I “hike.” So what would likely happen with me in this scenario is that I’d pick up the bag, add it to my other collected trash, and throw it in the next public trash can I find! However, should I look inside the bag and find the money, I would call the police because the bag might have fingerprints on it that could be… Read more »

John Koenig

Legally, it should be turned into local authorities as “Found Property”. A case number should be assigned and, the finder should receive an OFFICIAL receipt accurately describing the “Found Property” along with the case number. Each state has laws governing how long “Found Property” must be held for and, during that time, an investigation is supposed to be conducted, in an effort to find the true owner, so that said “Found Property” may be returned to said rightful owner. The time period can range from months to many years depending upon the value of said “Found Property”. AFTER the statutory… Read more »

Paul Horton

Of all the replys, yours was the best. They will assign a number and after a specific time period, the money would be returned to you for donation, etc or even for your needs.


It was mostly correct but in CA at least, completely WRONG about us gun toting uniformed officers seizing large sums of $ without a separate crime that would lead to the seizure (28 years of gang/drug experience…) Correct about revealing a ccw and weapon immediately. DWI/DUI checkpoints, unless there’s reasonable suspicion/probable cause, you won’t be asked for license/reg/in’s, you’ll be waved along. If there is any of the aforementioned and you refuse to talk, bad advice could and will lead to detrimental results lol. If I’m going to conduct a legal investigation, you don’t have the right to counsel. Only… Read more »


Post ad in local paper for a week, If owner not located then donate to a family in need by leaving it on their doorstep.


So they will need to do the same thing?


These days, i’d donate it to my own charity (MORTotes, who helps foster kids). I know 100% makes it to the kids, even more with matching donations.

5 years ago, i’d post a misleading-to-shills but clear-to-loser “Found lunchbag” and let them ID contents.

NEVER, EVER give to police these days – they wont investigate and DO take it as forfeiture.

Mark Strovink

After I finish looking for hidden cameras and a relative of Alan Funt’s?

RV Staff

For sure! That was one of my dad’s favorite programs. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com


If I could find the rightful owner, return it to them.

Greg Illes

No trust in “authorities”.
Check to see if counterfeit or stolen.
If so, give to the cops.
If not, give to charity.

Bob C.

I would check with local authorites to determine how they process “found money”. If unclaimed and it ends up at an appropriate charitable organization, I’d leave it with them. If not, I’d find my own preferred charity.

RV Staff

Slightly different scenario, but years ago I found a wad of money, almost $100, sitting by a self-pay box at a parking garage in downtown Seattle. I was heading to work a couple of blocks away, so I took the money and left a note where the money had been, asking for the owner to phone me at work, describe the amount of money, and I’d tell them where to come and get it. About a half hour later I got a call from a senior lady. She and some friends had gone to the “big city” for the day… Read more »

Jim C

Depends on where I found it, in an isolated area, or in an inhabited area I would try to find out if anybody was around, if not go to the authorities

C Smith

Donate half to American Cancer Society, keep half.

Patrick Granahan

I would look around for the obvious “shady character “……sounds like a drug deal went bad.
Normal folks don’t go around with $1,000 in an unmarked brown paper bag.
If you are sure you were not seen picking up such a bag you might keep the money.
If you were seen then you are now in a risk pool !


Donate to local shelters & food banks.


Keep it and spend it as I see fit. If the idiot was dumb enough to lose it I’m smart enough to keep it.


Recycle the paper bag


I’m with George. Hard to believe there are not more ‘honest’ people posting about what they would really do with it ….

Doug Stemper

Depending where I am at the time, I would either give it to the police or hold onto it and donate it to a local charity.

Tommy Molnar

This is a tough question. I’ve found dollar bills drifting along the sidewalk – and kept them. My wife found a five dollar bill while we were out walking in a local park. And, MY best was a 20 dollar bill in the empty parking lot of the same park (we walk there a LOT). So at what point do you decide NOT to keep money? If I found a hundred dollar bill floating along the pavement, I’d keep that too. Do you walk up to the first person you see and ask if they misplaced a thousand bucks? As… Read more »

Charles Carmichael

Back in 1979 I had a fiat in Norman . Ok. on N Flood Ave next to my car was a black trash bag, I tots it in the trunk and went to work. The next day I had the tire fixed and wile I was watering I looked into the bag before I through it in the trash what I found was $10,000.00 in $20.00’s and $1.00’s . We called the Police three days later I was told that the cash was lost by a homeless Vet. and some how fell off his bicycle and had been looking for… Read more »


Reading that story inspires me to change my response from “Keep it” to “Report it. “

Rosy D.

Keep it after gifting 10% to my church. Then go to a local diner and “pay it forward” by paying for another customer’s meal.

Bob p

Anybody that needs that money is not going to carry it in a paper bag, they’re going to have it safely stashed on their body. Therefore it’s probably ill gotten money from a criminal type person who threw it out the window in a police chase. If you turn it over to police nobody but the police will ever see it again, that would buy a lot of coffee and donuts. If you place an ad for lost and found someone will guess the right amount and you’ll never know if they were the rightful owner unless they can give… Read more »

Rick Edgar

If I couldn’t determine the owner’s I would donate to nonprofit.

David Howard

If there were any indications on or in the bag that might lead to identifying the owner then I would certainly try to do so. But a truly “unmarked paper bag” would be kept and my thoughts would be “today is my lucky day”. It may sound callous but I have little sympathy for anyone so foolish as to keep $1,000 cash in an unmarked paper bag and then lose the bag itself.


Put an ad in Craigslist, under “Lost and Found “ and wait for a reply, with details on the contents and location.


If you post the contents and description on Craigslist, you would have thousands of people claiming it was theirs’ . best thing to do is post, “Found bag” or whatever was found, with location and let the caller describe it and the contents. Or, contact the police and let them know you found it, and would hold onto to it for a specified time to see if someone reports it.

patti panuccio


Douglas C Rutz

I believe that I would post an ad under lost and found and also tell the authorities that I found a paper sack and if someone could identify the contents, that I would give it back to them. If this were in the 50’s or 60’s I would give it to the authorities and wait to see if anyone claimed it.


Try to find the owner of the lost money in various ways. If not able to find proper owner of the lost funds, would make sure a local food bank or homeless shelter received the unclaimed funds.


If you turn it in to authorities they will just claim it is drug money and seize it under asset forfeiture rules.
I would spend every penny and then some to provide food for the homeless.

martlin c chambers

I would turn it in to legal authorities and document it well that I did so. After a period of time with no one claiming the money I should get it back.

We don’t know what this loss will mean for someone. It could be what someone needs to pay their rent or their bills and the loss of this money will be devastating. Our gain could be someone else’s major set back. How would you feel if you lost such a large sum of money. I know it would be a punch in the gut for me,

Martha Mary Holmes

I’d place an ad in the Lost and Found section of the county newspaper saying that the bag had been found but not specify the contents.


Just COULD NOT keep it.
Can’t bring myself to trust authorities with it.
So…only thing to do is give it to some struggling minor local charity effort..say a feed the kids or habitat for humanity project, a homeless shelter or any one of a dozen such much-needed efforts.


I was shocked to learn that In our island community we have over 100 homeless high school students, living in scattered vehicles or ‘couch-camping’ in friends homes. The best place to take that $1,000 would be to the local volunteer agency that tries to help them.


I agree with Betty, post a generic ad in the local paper stating a bag was found at such and such location. If the caller could tell me what was in the bag, precise amount, they would get it back, otherwise it’s mine. I’m just wondering why someone would be carrying $1000 in a paper bag and not in their pocket or purse or fanny pack or brief case or lock box. A paper bag makes me think that this money is from a nefarious deal.

Janice Kibbe

After exhausting all possible ways to find the owner, I would give it to a shelter to help with bitter cold winter needs.


I would post it in the notices section of the local newspaper for its owner to specifically identify the lost object and its location. If no valid response then it’s mine. How many people would you think be calling you if you post that you found $1000 dollars in an unmarked paper bag? Most likely you would be inundated within the first few hours with thousands of calls.

Dennis Watson

I would spend it in food and give the food to the homeless


I would post locally that I found a bag and if they lost it and could tell me what was inside, I would give it to them. If no response, I’d keep it.


I’m no saint but I’m not so desperate for money that I would keep it. I’d feel too guilty if I did. Besides, the person who lost an unmarked paper bag of money probably needs it a lot more than I do!