The other day while biking, I found an iPhone laying on the side of the road. I picked it up, and brought it home with me. I didn't think of it much at the time because I had work to do, and I had to charge it anyway.

By the time I turned on the phone (the next day), it displayed a phone number to call to return it, along with a not-so-subtle threat that they would call the police on me if I did not, saying that my location was pinned.

I was happy to return the phone (it was always my goal), but their threat piqued my interest. Am I legally obligated to return this phone, and if the police were called, would they have had power to take it from me?

For a bit more context, I live on the second floor of an apartment building, so even if they had my location, they wouldn't be able to prove it was in my apartment versus the one below it (if it matters at all).

  • California: Theft. Germany: Fundunterschlagung. Well, you wouldn't want to commit Fundunterschlagung.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 26, 2017 at 18:45
  • 1
    You have a phone that isn't yours. You have the number of the owner. Don't be an ass, call that number. If you don't, in most countries you will become a criminal.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 26, 2017 at 18:47
  • The rule of "finders keepers" only applies until you're old enough to be arrested for theft when you take something that isn't yours, without first getting permission of the owner, and intend to keep it. In my state, theft of anything worth more than $250 is a felony worth a year in prison.
    – Upnorth
    Oct 27, 2017 at 5:56
  • Your iPhone can report altitude along with location (from GPS hardware and/or using it's barometric sensor included with all iPhones since 5s). So being on the second floor may not be as safe as you think. Dec 19, 2018 at 23:53


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