I found myself down in southern Sweden again this weekend. I was there to hang out with the cousins. On Monday, I headed back up to Stockholm, but before I really started my drive I stopped by a lovely little town to take a swim. Because it was sunny and I could see Denmark. Which tends to be all it takes for me to get in the water.
Anyway, as I approached my swimming hole I noticed a wallet hanging out on the bench near the dock. So I snagged it and checked it out hoping to find some sort of identifying marks. A phone number really. There was no phone number but a few bills and a credit card along with a couple other cards you find in your every day wallet. It was obviously something that someone would be missing. But I had some swimming to do.
So I jumped in the water and swam around for ten minutes or so. It was still at a pretty comfortable temperature after I got over the initial shock of my swimming suit getting wet. I had been swimming down here just a couple of weeks ago though and it was incredible the difference in water temperature. Anyway, all the while I was kind of hoping the person who belonged to the wallet would come back. They did not.
So I grabbed the wallet as I walked away, not really sure what to do with it. I found myself in a pretty small town with no police station and only one bank. Unfortunately not the same bank that issued the credit card in question. But I headed to the bank hoping that maybe they could just take care of it by getting a hold of their competitor who in turn could get in touch with the card holder. I was wrong. Instead they sent me to the police station which was one town over. So I hopped in my car and drove to the police station. No big deal really, I had nowhere to be so I had time on my hands.
When I arrived at the police station I was asked a few questions about where I found it, when I found it, my contact information, nothing too exciting. The wallet was then examined and inventoried. Cash was counted and the cards were noted. 270 SEK in the wallet by the way. But then I was in for a bit of a surprise. I was asked if I wanted a “hittelön,” a finder’s fee. I said no, it wasn’t a big deal, I didn’t need it. Then the lady informed me that it wouldn’t be much anyway, only 27 SEK. Apparently the hittelön is equal to 10% of the cash in the wallet. I had no idea. This was all very new to me.
It seems that the idea here is to encourage people to turn in lost goods. And it makes sense. I actually quite like the idea. Turns out, according to the police website, that anyone who finds something like a wallet is required to turn it over within 14 days. I got mine in within an hour. The person who owns the wallet and claims it is then required to pay the finder’s fee if the finder requests it. Apparently, if something is not claimed for three months, the finder becomes the owner. I doubt that the police are going to hand over someone else’s credit card though. So I’m probably out of luck. For the entire policy (in Swedish) check out: Hittegods.
Sweden has a similar policy when it comes to historical finds. If you stumble across a hoard of Viking coins for example you are required by law to turn them over to the government. Of course, you are given a finder’s fee that is related to the worth of the find. Again, the idea being to encourage people to turn over the find. For a brief overview of this policy (in Swedish) check out: Fornlämningar.
All in all I’m a fan of the policy. Granted, it would be nice to think that it’s not necessary but a little extra economic incentive to turn over a wallet probably doesn’t hurt. And especially if it is the owner who is responsible for the reward.
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