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  1. #1

    Default Abandoned Property in California

    A "friend," emailed me in a panic and asked me to go to his old house, and get his things, because his former roomates were threatening to get rid of them. He sent a check, which covered shipping some of the boxes (which I purchased and packed) but there were still two boxes left which needed to be shipped. He told me that in exchange for helping, my boyfriend would receive his old (old) TV, but when we arrived there, the roommates refused to hand it over.

    I gave my friend a deadline of 9/25 to send more money, or I would get rid of the items, via Goodwill. The quote I sended him included the cost of shipping supplies, and the cost of sending the two leftover boxes. Also left behind was a used martial arts practice bag, which is valued at $279.00 new. I told him if he wanted that mailed, he had to do the research on the dimensions and get an estimate on shipping them, plus add on the cost of boxes to the money he would send. The amount he owed for packaging and shipping was about $120.00.

    He sent me back a nasty email, that I was threatening him, and insinuated that I was trying to make money off the shipping process - by cheating him. He also drastically underestimated the time, energy and effort it took to coordinate with the old roommates, pack the boxes, repack the boxes because his instructions were wrong, etc. I also gave him the option (begged him) to have someone else take over the items and further shipping.

    By 9/28, I had not heard from him, and sent an email. He said he was working on getting the money, and almost had half of it. He said if he had to lose the martial arts bag, he would live with that. I sent him a response that the things had to be out of my apartment by the following weekend (which was 10/5).

    After 10/5, I sold the martial arts bag, for $85.00. In a subsequent email, my "friend," stated he was still working on getting the money together, and I told him I'd sold the bag. I also gave him a final deadline of 10/13.

    He threw a total fit that I'd sold the bag, and I offered to contribute $42.50 to the shipping, but only if he sent the rest of the money, including packaging costs, etc.

    Following that, he started threatening that I had stolen his things, and if I didn't ship them to him immediately, he was going to take me to small claims court - and he was going to slander me professionally.

    Since I'd given him a reasonable deadline for arranging to ship his items, which he didn't meet - did I have a legal right to sell them? Are they considered abandoned at that point?

    As far as his further items - what should I do with them if he doesn't meet the deadline of 10/13?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Lost and Abandoned Property

    Each state has laws governing the disposition of lost and abandoned property. You can't arbitrarily ignore the law and define your own deadlines and remedies. Your local police department should be able to inform you of the laws of your state.

  3. #3

    Default Yes so....

    This should be amusing, to phone LAPD and ask them this question.

  4. #4

    Default No luck w/LAPD

    Question: I picked up his things and brought them to my house, and gave him a deadline. Isn't this a contractual issue? LAPD had no idea.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Default Abandoned Property Law in California

    Section 2080 of the California Civil Code provides:
    Quote Quoting California Civil Code, Section 2080
    Any person who finds a thing lost is not bound to take charge of it, unless the person is otherwise required to do so by contract or law, but when the person does take charge of it he or she is thenceforward a depositary for the owner, with the rights and obligations of a depositary for hire. Any person or any public or private entity that finds and takes possession of any money, goods, things in action, or other personal property, or saves any domestic animal from harm, neglect, drowning, or starvation, shall, within a reasonable time, inform the owner, if known, and make restitution without compensation, except a reasonable charge for saving and taking care of the property. Any person who takes possession of a live domestic animal shall provide for humane treatment of the animal.
    So a person in possession of found property is obligated to notify the owner of the abandoned property. If it is unclaimed:
    Quote Quoting California Civil Code, Section 2080.1
    2080.1. (a) If the owner is unknown or has not claimed the property, the person saving or finding the property shall, if the property is of the value of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, within a reasonable time turn the property over to the police department of the city or city and county, if found therein, or to the sheriff's department of the county if found outside of city limits, and shall make an affidavit, stating when and where he or she found or saved the property, particularly describing it. If the property was saved, the affidavit shall state:

    (1) From what and how it was saved.

    (2) Whether the owner of the property is known to the affiant.

    (3) That the affiant has not secreted, withheld, or disposed of any part of the property.

    (b) The police department or the sheriff's department shall notify the owner, if his or her identity is reasonably ascertainable, that it possesses the property and where it may be claimed. The police department or sheriff's department may require payment by the owner of a reasonable charge to defray costs of storage and care of the property.
    It seems like the wise approach would be to notify the person in writing, by certified mail (return receipt requested), of the fact that they have abandoned the property (with a list of the items at issue), instructing them as to how they can collect the property, and that if they do not do so the property will be turned over to the police on a specified date.

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