I do not own the title or have any registration but it’s been sitting in the woods for at least 5 years. I want to restore it but I don’t want to invest money and not be able to own it.

This is in the US state of Oregon.

  • 4
    You need to tell us where you are. I could give you the answer for Germany, if that helps ...
    – o.m.
    Dec 12, 2020 at 6:25
  • There's a huge difference in where you are!
    – Trish
    Dec 12, 2020 at 13:51
  • I live in Oregon.
    – user35776
    Dec 12, 2020 at 17:58
  • 4
    Is "the woods" property you own? if not, is it owned by a private person, or is it public? Dec 12, 2020 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


Oregon law ORS 98.005 Rights and duties of finder of money or goods says:

(1) If any person finds money or goods valued at $250 or more, and if the owner of the money or goods is unknown, such person, within 10 days after the date of the finding, shall give notice of the finding in writing to the county clerk of the county in which the money or goods was found. Within 20 days after the date of the finding, the finder of the money or goods shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county a notice of the finding once each week for two consecutive weeks. Each such notice shall state the general description of the money or goods found, the name and address of the finder and final date before which such goods may be claimed.

(2) If no person appears and establishes ownership of the money or goods prior to the expiration of three months after the date of the notice to the county clerk under subsection (1) of this section, the finder shall be the owner of the money or goods. [1973 c.642 §1; 1989 c.522 §1; 2013 c.220 §1]

There is nothing that says that a car cannot be the "goods" under this provision. I am not clear what effect there would be because of delay: the question says that the car has been in its current location for several years, and therefore was not reported promptly when found. But a car, unlike most other property, is normally registered, and the owner can be determined from the license plate or the VIN. There might also be a duty to use these to determine the owner (or last known owner) and give notice to that person.

ORS 98.025 Rights of owner provides:

If an owner of money or goods found by another person appears and establishes a claim to such money or goods within the time period prescribed by ORS 98.005 (Rights and duties of finder of money or goods) or 98.015 (Liability of noncomplying finder), whichever applies, the owner shall have restitution of such money or goods or their value upon payment of all costs and charges incurred in the finding, giving of notice, care and custody of such money or goods. [1973 c.642 §3]

ORS 98.015 provides that someone who finds money or goods subject to ORS 98.005 but fails to make the required notices may be charged with theft of lost or unclaimed property. In such a case, the county takes possession of the property, and publishes the notices specified in ORS 98.005 , and becomes the owner if no owner appears and makes a claim as in ORS 98.025.

Possibly also relevant would be ORS 98.810 Unauthorized parking of vehicle on proscribed property prohibited which provides that:

A person may not, without the permission of:


(2) The owner of proscribed property, leave or park any vehicle on the proscribed property whether or not there is a sign prohibiting or restricting parking on the proscribed property. [1953 c.575 §1; 1979 c.100 §3; 1981 c.861 §24; 1983 c.436 §3; 2007 c.538 §10]

According to ORS 98.805:

“Proscribed property” means any part of private property:

(a) Where a reasonable person would conclude that parking is not normally permitted at all or where a land use regulation prohibits parking; or

(b) That is used primarily for parking at a dwelling unit. As used in this paragraph, “dwelling unit” means a single-family residential dwelling or a duplex.

which would seem to include the situation described in the question. Under ORS 98.812 the owner of the “[p]roscribed property” may, but need not have a vehicle that is parked in violation of ORS 98.810 towed. In that case the tower may charge towing and storage fees to the vehicle owner, subject to certain restrictions. But in this case the desire is not to tow or otherwise remove the vehicle, but rather to claim ownership, so ORS 98.005 is probably more relevant.

  • A motor vehicle is "goods", under the law. "Goods denote personal chattel and other property which may be detached from land." - A house (unless it is a mobile one) is not "goods" under this definition. Also, if posting a notice on a newspaper, keep a law office on retainer and use their address as a proxy. Don't doxx yourself. Feb 7 at 15:43

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