Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wallets and Good Deeds in Sweden

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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  1. Floridian in FinlandSeptember 16, 2008 at 10:48 AM

    I found your blog a month ago. Ironically by googling Swedish fashion - very comical considering your stance on it. :) Seems that you are going through very much of the same things as I went through during my first year in Finland. I've been here 4 years now!

    I just lost my credit card over here in Finland. Not sure about in Sweden but in Finland we're required to show our ID for purchases over 50 euros. Apparently someone tried to use mine before I cancelled it and I found out that the give the business a 150 euro reward for that. Luckily not from my bank account, but seems like a good idea in any case. Keep up with the good deeds. :)

  2. A few weeks ago I took a day trip to Birka, and our group was told if we happened to find a historical artifact we would be rewarded. It's an interesting policy... kind of like it!

  3. @floridian - I love that the fashion post is what brought you here.

    and that is a pretty cool policy in Finland too I must say. That makes for a pretty good incentive to follow the policy and check ids.

    @kimberly - yeah I love that law. mostly because Im a huge history nerd and dream of stumbling upon some ancient coins or a sword buried in the ground.

    I have to ask though because I have yet to check it out... how was birka?

  4. UPDATE: Today in the mail I received a letter from Polismyndigheten i Skåne. The owner of the wallet has been found. Well done Skåne Police. Well done.

  5. Floridian is right about the 50 euro purchases, but I think the same rule applies in Sweden. The only exception being the limit of 50-crown purchases! That's pretty little amount of money, basically you have to flash your ID all the time. Unless there is a possibility to write down your PIN code at the register. That equals to signature and flashing :)

    Nice to hear some points of view from immigrants in Finland too. I guess it looks pretty much the same situation, but I can tell you it's not!

  6. Sweden does love looking at ID. And Im fine with showing it. Makes me feel a bit better to be honest that they do such a good job of checking.

  7. I've never heard of having to show your ID at purchases over 50 kr or any amount of money actually. I've never had to so i don't think we have that law in Sweden and I thinmk that is good becuase it seems kind a unnecessary.

  8. I dont know about the exact rule but I always have to show my idea unless I am plugging in my pin. in fact, I cant remember a asingle time paying with a card that I didnt either use my pin or id regardless of the amount.

  9. Really?! That's crazy. What purchases do you mean? JClothes, grocery stores etc? Taht's crazy, I've NEVER done that and I ALWAYS pay with cash. That's fucking menatl, maybe thats just the big cities becuase it has never happened to me.

  10. well Ive never had to show id with cash. just a card.