In South Carolina (USA), if a car is left on somebody else's land, does it become their car after a certain amount of time has passed? Is there any obligation in the land owner to attempt to find or contact the vehicle owner?

Does the answer change depending on whether the vehicle registration is current?


1 Answer 1


There's the question whether something is lost property or abandoned property. You'd be allowed to keep abandoned property, but keeping lost property without looking for the owner is in many places considered theft.

A car on your land is quite likely abandoned by the last driver (people don't usually lose cars). But the question is whether it is abandoned by the owner; if the car looks like it has some value then it is unlikely to be abandoned by the owner and more likely that it has been stolen.

I'd report the car to the police; then it's up to them to find the owner or not. If they can find him, and the car was not abandoned, but actually lost (unlikely) or stolen (more likely), you have the satisfaction of being an honest person helping either a very stupid car owner or a crime victim to get their property back. If they can't find him, usually the property will then belong to the finder.

  • This is more general advice and good ethics than specific to legitimately abandoned property. I quite agree with the best approach, but is there a time span at which something becomes legitimately abandoned without involving the police?
    – era
    Jan 26, 2016 at 21:08

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