finder, in law. Ordinarily the finder of lost property is entitled to retain it against anyone except the owner. It is larceny, however, for the finder to keep the property if he knows or can easily determine who owns it. In some places the finder must deliver the lost object to the police; if it is unclaimed within a prescribed period it becomes his property. Lost objects that are embedded in the soil, e.g., a deeply buried ring, belong to the landowner even if another finds them. On the other hand, objects found in a privately owned place to which the public has the right of access, e.g., a hotel, belong to the finder and not to the owner of the realty. The purchaser of an article that, without his knowledge, has something of value concealed in it, e.g., money in a desk, is legally the finder, not the owner, of the valuable. See treasure-trove.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.