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New York

Mckinney's Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated. Personal Property Law. Chapter 41 Of the Consolidated Laws. Article 7-B. Lost and Found Property.

Statute Details
Printable Version
Citation: McKinney's Personal Property Law 251 to 258

Citation: NY PERS PROP 251 to 258


Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 01/2014

Summary:   This section comprises New York's Lost and Found Property provisions.


Statute in Full:

§ 251. Definitions

§ 252. Found property and found instruments to be deposited with police; penalty for failure to deliver to police; delivery to persons in possession of premises where found

§ 253. Duties of police

§ 254. Disposition of lost property

§ 255. Disposition of instruments

§ 256. Exceptions

§ 257. Title to lost property

§ 258. Proceeds to be paid into fund

 

§ 251. Definitions

1. The term "property" as used in this article means money, instruments payable, drawn or issued to bearer or to cash, goods, chattels and tangible personal property other than (a) "instruments" as defined in subdivision two of this section, (b) animals, (c) wrecks governed by the provisions of the navigation law, (d) logs and other property governed by section three hundred twenty-three of the town law and (e) vehicles governed by the vehicle and traffic law.

2. The term "instrument" as used in this article means a check, draft, promissory note, bond, bill of lading, warehouse receipt, stock certificate or other paper or document, other than those payable, drawn or issued to bearer or to cash and other than money, evidencing, representing or embodying a chose in action or a right with respect to property or a share, participation or other interest in property or in an enterprise.

3. The term "lost property" as used in this article includes lost or mislaid property. Abandoned property, waifs and treasure trove, and other property which is found, shall be presumed to be lost property and such presumption shall be conclusive unless it is established in an action or proceeding commenced within six months after the date of the finding that the property is not lost property.

4. The term "owner" as used in this article means any person entitled to possession of the lost property as against the finder and against any other person who has made a claim.

5. The term "finder" as used in this article means the person who first takes possession of lost property.

6. "Transportation facility" as used in this article means a railroad car or coach, Pullman car, street surface railroad car, subway car, motor bus, motor coach, taxicab, aircraft or steamship, and any other vehicle or conveyance used for carriage of persons whether or not such use is in the course of a business of transporting persons. "Transportation company" as used in this article means the person carrying on a business of operating a transportation facility. A taxi driver is a "transportation company" with respect to a taxicab which he owns and operates as owner.

CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1; amended L.1974, c. 795, §§ 1, 2; L.1975, c. 106, §§ 1, 2.)

 

§ 252. Found property and found instruments to be deposited with police; penalty for failure to deliver to police; delivery to persons in possession of premises where found

1. Except as provided in subdivision five of section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter or as otherwise prescribed pursuant to section two hundred fifty of the general municipal law, any person who finds lost property of the value of twenty dollars or more or comes into possession of property of the value of twenty dollars or more with knowledge that it is lost property or found property shall, within ten days after the finding or acquisition of possession thereof, either return it to the owner or report such finding or acquisition of possession and deposit such property in a police station or police headquarters of the city where the finding occurred or possession was acquired, but if the finding occurred or possession was acquired in buildings or on grounds or premises under the control and supervision of the commissioner of general services as described in article two of the public buildings law, then the property may also be deposited in a station of the capital buildings police. If the finding occurred or possession was acquired outside a city, then such property shall be deposited in a station or substation of the state police or in a police station or police headquarters, including a sheriff's office, of the county, town, or village where the finding occurred or possession was acquired. If the finding occurred or possession was acquired in buildings or on grounds or premises constituting a state park, parkway, recreational facility or historic site under the jurisdiction of the commissioner of parks, recreation and historic preservation, then such property may also be deposited in a station of the regional state park police. If the finding occurred or possession was acquired in buildings or on the grounds or premises of the state-operated institutions in the state university of New York, then such property may also be deposited with a security officer or police officer appointed by the state university. Property so deposited shall be retained and disposed of in accordance with procedures set forth in sections two hundred fifty-three through two hundred fifty-seven of this chapter except that the powers and duties in said sections mentioned to be performed by the police shall be performed by security officers or police officers appointed by the state university.

2. Except as provided in subdivision five of section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter or as otherwise prescribed pursuant to section two hundred fifty of the general municipal law, any person who finds an instrument or comes into possession of an instrument with knowledge that it has been found shall, within ten days after the finding or acquisition of possession thereof, either return it to a person entitled thereto or report the finding or acquisition of possession and deposit the instrument in a police station or police headquarters, as provided in subdivision one of this section, as if such instrument were lost property having a value of ten dollars or more.

3. Except as provided in subdivision four of this section, any person who shall refuse or wilfully neglect to comply with the provisions of subdivision one or subdivision two of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

4. A person shall not be subject to criminal prosecution for failure to report a finding or acquisition of possession of found property or of a found instrument to the police and deposit such property or instrument with the police if, in lieu thereof, he delivers the property or instrument to the person in possession of the premises where the property or instrument was found, provided he had no reason to believe that such person would not comply with subdivision one or subdivision two of this section.

A person who delivers found property or a found instrument to the person in possession of the premises where the property or instrument was found is not liable to the owner or person entitled thereto for such delivery if he had no reason to believe that such person in possession of the premises would not comply with subdivision one or subdivision two of this section.

CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1; amended L.1974, c. 157, § 1; L.1981, c. 131, § 1; L.1982, c. 820, § 1; L.1989, c. 641, § 1; L.1998, c. 424, § 18, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.) 

 

§ 253. Duties of police

1. Unless otherwise prescribed in accordance with section two hundred fifty of the general municipal law or section two hundred twenty-five-a of the executive law and unless otherwise provided by law applicable specifically to matters prescribed in this section, the police with whom found property or a found instrument is deposited shall accept and retain custody of the property or instrument, or proceeds of the property in the event of a sale pursuant to subdivision five of this section, and shall give notice of such custody, as provided in this section.

The police with whom found property or a found instrument is deposited as provided in this article shall give to the person depositing it a receipt identifying the transaction of deposit and identifying the property or instrument. Such identification may be by description and recital of the facts of the transaction or by reference numbers, duplicate copies of records, or other method connecting the receipt with the records of the police with respect to the property or instrument and the transaction.

2. Such property or instrument shall be transmitted, together with the report of the person who deposited it with the police, to the police officer or other official designated to hold such property or instrument, who shall make entry in his records of such deposit and the report of the person depositing such property or instrument with the police.

3. If the report of the person who deposited the property or instrument shows that the property or instrument was found in a place other than a public street or highway, the police with whom it is deposited shall give notice of the finding and deposit, including the location of the office to which the property or instrument is transmitted, to the occupant of the premises where the property or instrument was found or to the person in charge of such premises.

The police with whom an instrument is deposited shall give notice of the deposit to each person whose name and address appears upon the instrument or whose name so appears and whose address is known to the police.

4. If at any time the police have reason to believe that a person has an interest in found property or in a found instrument in their possession and reason to know his whereabouts, they shall give notice of the finding and deposit and the location of the office to which the property or instrument is transmitted to such person.

5. (a) Property having salvage value only may be sold by the police in such manner as may be reasonable in the circumstances. Perishable property shall be sold by the police as soon as possible in such manner as may be reasonable in the circumstances.

(b) Property which requires special care may be kept by the police in public or private facilities which the police deem appropriate for the purpose of preserving it.

(c) Any property may be sold by the police at public auction when the expenses reasonably incurred in dealing with it, including expenses of taking of custody, transportation, storage and appraisal, any special expense incurred in giving notice, and any other special expense attributable to administration of this article with respect to the particular property, amount to more than one-half the amount reasonably estimated as the net sum likely to be realized by sale at public auction.

(d) If property is sold as provided in this subdivision the proceeds remaining after deducting the amount of reasonable expenses of the sale and reasonable expenses of dealing with the property prior to the sale, including any items of expense mentioned in paragraph (c), shall be dealt with as lost property having the value of the property sold.

6. Subject to subdivision three of section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter and to section thirteen hundred ten or other applicable section of the abandoned property law, instruments shall be retained in the custody of the police with whom they were deposited until delivered to the person entitled thereto as provided in section two hundred fifty-five of this chapter.

7. Except as provided in subdivision three of section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter, lost property, and the proceeds of sale pursuant to subdivision five of this section remaining after deduction of expenses as provided in that subdivision, shall be kept in the custody of the police for the following periods, unless sooner delivered to the owner as provided in section two hundred fifty-four:

Property having a value of less than one hundred dollars or proceeds of property having such value, three months; property having a value of one hundred dollars or more but less than five hundred dollars or proceeds of property having such value, six months; property having a value of five hundred dollars or more but less than five thousand dollars or proceeds of property having such value, one year; property having a value of five thousand dollars or more or proceeds of property having such value, three years.

8. Three months before the expiration of the period applicable to the property in question, as specified in subdivision seven of this section, if the property has not been delivered to the owner as provided in section two hundred fifty-four, the police shall give notice to the owner, if known, and to any person they have reason to believe has an interest in the property, if the address or a former address of such owner or person is known, and to all persons who have made claim to the property, and to the finder and any person who has filed notice asserting the right of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six. Such notice shall be in writing and shall be served personally or sent by certified mail to the last known address of the person to whom it is sent and shall state, in substance: (a) that if within three months after the date of personal service or mailing of the notice the owner does not claim the property, and if at the end of such three months no action is pending to determine rights to such property, written notice of which action was served upon the police having custody of the property, the property will be delivered to the finder or, if he establish his right, to a person entitled to assert the right of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six; and (b) that if at the expiration of three months and ten days after the date of the personal service or mailing of the notice, the owner has not claimed the property and the finder, or a person entitled to assert the right of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six, has not demanded delivery of it, and no action is pending to determine rights to such property, notice of which was served upon the police having custody of the property, it will be sold at public auction; and (c) in the case of property in the custody of the state police, that the proceeds of the sale will be deposited in the abandoned property fund of the state and in the case of property in the custody of other police that the proceeds will become the property of the city, county, town or village.

 CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1; amended L.1962, c. 222, §§ 1, 2; L.1969, c. 672, § 1; L.1974, c. 795, § 3.)

 

§ 254. Disposition of lost property

Except as provided in section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter, lost property deposited with the police, and the money constituting proceeds of lost property sold as provided in subdivision five of section two hundred fifty-three remaining after deduction of expenses as therein provided, shall be disposed of as follows:

1. It shall be delivered to the owner, upon his demand and upon payment of all reasonable expenses incurred in connection therewith, if no written notice of any other claim to the property has been served upon the police having custody, and the time specified in subdivision seven of section two hundred fifty-three of this chapter has not expired or, if such period has expired, no demand has been made by the finder or a person entitled to assert the right of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter.

2. If at the end of the period specified in subdivision seven of section two hundred fifty-three of this chapter the owner has not claimed the property, it shall be delivered to the finder, or person entitled to assert the rights of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter, upon his demand therefor, and upon payment of all reasonable expenses incurred in connection therewith.

3. If at the end of ten days after expiration of the period specified in subdivision seven of section two hundred fifty-three, the owner has not claimed it, and no demand has been made by the finder or a person entitled to assert the right of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter, property consisting of money shall be paid as provided in section two hundred fifty-eight of this chapter and other property shall be sold at public auction and the proceeds shall be paid as provided in such section two hundred fifty-eight. Where the property was deposited with the state police, such sale shall be held in accordance with rules of the comptroller.

 CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1; amended L.1962, c. 222, § 3.)

 

§ 255. Disposition of instruments

1. An instrument deposited with the police shall be delivered to the person entitled thereto upon payment of all reasonable expenses incurred in connection therewith.

2. No instrument deposited with the police shall be destroyed or sold. Except as provided in subdivision three of section two hundred fifty-six, no such instrument shall be returned to the finder, or his employer, or the person who deposited it with the police, or the person upon whose premises it was found.

 CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1.)

 

§ 256. Exceptions

1. If a finder takes possession of lost property while he is upon premises with respect to which his presence is a crime, the person in possession of the premises where the lost property was found shall have the rights of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-four of this chapter, if, before the property is delivered to the finder by the police, he files with the police having custody of the property a written notice asserting his rights.

2. If the finder is an officer or employee of the state or of a public corporation and takes possession of the property in the course of his official duty, the state or public corporation shall be deemed to be the finder for the purposes of section two hundred fifty-four and section two hundred fifty-seven of this chapter. If, in any other case, the finder is an employee under a duty to deliver the lost property to his employer, the employer shall have the rights of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-four if, before the property is delivered to the finder by the police, he shall file with the police having custody of the property a written notice asserting such rights.

3. If either lost property deposited with the police or an instrument deposited with the police was discovered upon the enclosed safe deposit premises of a safe deposit company or safe deposit department of a bank, the police shall return it to the safe deposit company or bank at the expiration of six months from the date of deposit. Upon receipt thereof the safe deposit company or bank shall hold the property or instrument as bailee for the person entitled thereto. If such person has not claimed it at the expiration of fifteen years from the date it was returned by the police and the property or instrument has not been delivered to the state comptroller pursuant to an order of the supreme court as provided in section thirteen hundred ten of the abandoned property law, the safe deposit company or bank shall pay that portion of such property which consists of money to the comptroller as unclaimed property. The safe deposit company or bank shall sell such property as does not consist of money and shall sell such instrument at a public sale, and the proceeds from such sale, less the expenses of such sale, including the costs of any advertising, shall be paid to the state comptroller as unclaimed property. Any such property or instrument determined to be valueless at such sale shall be delivered to the comptroller as unclaimed property.

4. A person who finds or comes into possession of property or an instrument while he is in or on a transportation facility while it is being operated as such shall be subject to the provisions of this article if he leaves the transportation facility at any place in this state taking with him at the time of such departure property or an instrument found by him in or upon the transportation facility or found property or a found instrument of which he acquired possession while in or upon the transportation facility. In such case the place where he leaves the transportation facility taking the found property or instrument with him shall be deemed for the purposes of this article to be the place where the finding occurred or possession was acquired.

For the purposes of subdivision four of section two hundred fifty-two of this chapter, a transportation facility shall be deemed "premises" and "person in possession of the premises" shall include any person actually operating a transportation facility and any officer, agent or employee of the transportation company actually or apparently authorized to receive delivery of the property or instrument.

For the purposes of subdivision three of section two hundred fifty-three, a transportation facility operated by a transportation company shall be deemed "premises" and the transportation company, or its officer, agent or employee authorized to act with respect to custody of lost and found property, shall be deemed to be the person in charge of such premises.

5. Except as otherwise prescribed pursuant to section two hundred fifty of the general municipal law, if the person who reports the finding or acquisition of possession of found property or an instrument is (a) a transportation company subject to the provisions of an act of congress known as the "interstate commerce act," as amended, [FN1] or engaged in air transportation pursuant to certificate or permit of the civil aeronautics board issued pursuant to an act of congress known as the "civil aeronautics act of nineteen hundred thirty-eight," as amended, [FN2] and the property or instrument was found on a transportation facility operated by such transportation company or (b) a safe deposit company or bank and the property or instrument was found on enclosed safe deposit premises of such safe deposit company or of the safe deposit department of such bank, such transportation company, safe deposit company or bank shall not be required to deposit such property or instrument at the time the report is made, but shall within sixty days after it acquired possession of the property or instrument deposit such property or instrument with the police to whom the report was made, unless within such time the property has been returned to the owner or the instrument has been returned to a person entitled thereto. Such transportation company, safe deposit company or bank shall hold such property or instrument subject to inspection at any time by the police to whom the report was made or by the police designated by an agreement pursuant to section two hundred fifty-one of the general municipal law.

A transportation company, safe deposit company or bank retaining possession of property or an instrument pursuant to this subdivision after report of its acquisition of possession thereof shall (a) give notice of its acquisition of possession of the instrument to each person whose name and address appears on the instrument or whose name so appears and whose address is known to it, and (b) if such transportation company, safe deposit company or bank has reason to believe that a person has an interest in the property or instrument and reason to know his whereabouts, shall give notice to him of its possession. But this paragraph does not require that a transportation company give such notice or notices with respect to instruments enclosed in an article of baggage or in a briefcase, purse or like article at the time it acquired possession of such article.

6. If at any time an action or proceeding shall be commenced to determine the right to found property or to an instrument and written notice of such action shall be served upon the police having custody of the property or instrument, the police shall not thereafter deliver the property or instrument to any person except pursuant to court order.

7. This article does not supersede or limit any other statute or rule of law governing custody or disposition of articles in the custody of the police which constitute evidence of the commission of a crime, or which may not lawfully be possessed, or which may not lawfully be possessed without license.

[FN1] 49 USCA § 1 et seq.

[FN2] Now Federal Aviation Act of 1958, 49 USCA § 1301 et seq.

 CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1; amended L.1971, c. 1021, § 1.)

 

§ 257. Title to lost property

1. The title to lost property which has been deposited with the police shall vest in the finder, or other person entitled to assert the rights of the finder as provided in section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter, when the property is delivered to him in accordance with section two hundred fifty-four of this chapter and shall vest in the buyer when the property is sold as provided in section two hundred fifty-three or two hundred fifty-four of this chapter.

2. If the finder of lost property under the value of ten dollars has made reasonable effort to find the owner and restore it to him, and has been unable to do so, the title to such property shall vest in the finder at the end of one year after the finding.

 CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1.)

 

§ 258. Proceeds to be paid into fund

Proceeds from the sale of lost property, less lawful deductions, or the money constituting lost property, shall be paid into the treasury of the county, city, town or village in the police department of which the property was deposited unless otherwise provided pursuant to section two hundred fifty of the general municipal law or other applicable statute, or into the abandoned property fund of the state if the property was deposited with the state police, the capital buildings police or the regional state park police or returned to a safe deposit company or bank pursuant to section two hundred fifty-six of this chapter, or into a fund established pursuant to subdivision eight of section three hundred fifty-five of the education law if the property was deposited with a security officer or police officer appointed by the state university.

 CREDIT(S)

(Added L.1958, c. 860, § 1; amended L.1971, c. 1021, § 2; L.1974, c. 157, § 2; L.1981, c. 131, § 2; L.1989, c. 641, § 2; L.1998, c. 424, § 19, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.)

 



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