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I lost my wallet. Someone found it! Is there any reason not to just go get it from them?
October 7, 2012 7:36 PM   Subscribe

I lost my wallet. Someone found it! Is there any reason not to just go get it from them?

I lost my wallet yesterday. Today, someone left me a voicemail telling me he'd found it. Yay!

In between, I cancelled some cards. I also called the police, to report the wallet was lost, I guess in case someone turned it in or whatever.

The cop I talked to told me that if someone calls and says they've found the wallet, I should ask them to take it to the nearest police station, and pick it up there. He said I should not meet someone who says they have found my wallet, because it could be a ruse where they rob me.

This seemed just weird to me. I can't really see why having someone's wallet would be a great occasion to rob them. I didn't bother to ask for a further explanation, since it didn't seem like an important issue at the time.

Normally, I'd just go get the wallet from this person. Mostly - I just want to go get the wallet, and meet the nice person who found it.
But now I'm wondering if there's any reason at all to take the cop's warning seriously.

(If it matters - I am in Toronto, a pretty low-crime city...)
posted by ManInSuit to Society & Culture (36 answers total)
 
The cops have to cover their bases that way. I would and have called a person whose wallet I found and asked them to come get it.

Take a friend? Meet in a public space? Or you could just ask them to drop it off.

Can awful things happen? Yes, of course. Do I think it's at all likely that you're going to get mugged when the criminal told you exactly where to meet them? No.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:42 PM on October 7, 2012


What? I'd just meet them in a very public place in the middle of the day. I'm sure like 99.9% of the time this would be legit, but the cops give you the "best practice" answer just to cover their bases for that 0.1%.

(IANACop, IANALawyer, IANAWouldBeMugger, IAAGoodSamaritan)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 7:44 PM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


You're assuming the person is nice. I guess in Canada you can assume that?
I would just do what the cop says. Or at least meet in a busy public place.
posted by bleep at 7:44 PM on October 7, 2012


Because when you show up, they can "convince" you (using force/a weapon) to accompany them to an ATM, where you'll be withdrawing money. They don't know if you've cancelled any cards.

The likelihood of you getting robbed is probably pretty small, but it wouldn't hurt to bring a friend.
posted by HopperFan at 7:45 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also live in Toronto, if that matters.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 7:46 PM on October 7, 2012


Why don't you just meet them in a Starbucks? It seems really unlikely someone will whip out a gun and drag you to the ATM in front of 25 other people.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, well, as a fellow Canuck, and a woman, I would probably do what the police said. There have been incidents in Cowtown where people where robbed when they went to meet in person after buying something on Kijiji. Part of me feels that the chance of harm is small, but why chance it? Good luck getting it back!
posted by Calzephyr at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2012


That's incredibly paranoid. Just meet them at a coffee shop and get your dang wallet. I'm sure the cop is just obligated to say that.
posted by windykites at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


And I, too, live in the t-dot.
posted by windykites at 7:48 PM on October 7, 2012


A mugger could also coerce any person with a wallet to do whatever it is they might do to you. There is no difference between them already having your wallet, and them forcing a random person to give them their wallet. Except that there will be (some) additional trail in your case, because they had to call you. It's like being paranoid that a random person knows where you live, which is dumb. Go anyplace where there are houses, and you now know where a person lives.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:49 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Don't succumb to cynicism. Meet this person and sincerely thank him. Buy him a coffee or a beer. Cops deal with shitty people all day. Their view of humanity is distorted. Trust your intuition.
posted by davebush at 7:50 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Could also be that they say "meet me at 10 am." You go to the place at the time, and they never show, because they've gone to your house (they have your address from your license) and a reasonable chance no one is home (since you're out meeting them to pick up your wallet).

That being said, I'd go meet them - most people are good.
posted by neilbert at 7:55 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could also be that they say "meet me at 10 am." You go to the place at the time, and they never show, because they've gone to your house (they have your address from your license) and a reasonable chance no one is home (since you're out meeting them to pick up your wallet).

This is exactly what I'm talking about. What a lot of effort when instead you can just pick any house, wait for people to leave, and rob it. You don't need some weird plan to (maybe!) get the house empty under some kind of ruse.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:58 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you know *100% for sure* that it was lost, not stolen? If you definitely just lost it I'd be less worried about the ATM thing. In any case, when you speak with them on the phone, say "Well, I already cancelled my cards, but I'd like my wallet and ID back regardless" so they know there's no point in dragging you to the ATM.

If you're uncomfortable meeting them but don't want it to be awkward, you can always invent a reason to be out of town for a few days and ask them to drop it off with the police so as to not inconvenience them further.
posted by acidic at 8:09 PM on October 7, 2012


"There is no difference between them already having your wallet, and them forcing a random person to give them their wallet."

There's the difference of your guard being way lower than it usually is, because you're thinking "person returning my wallet" = "good person."

When I've found people's wallets, I usually just left them in the mailbox so they could stop by at their leisure. Mainly because I don't want to spend time "meeting" or the awkwardness of refusing a reward.
posted by HopperFan at 8:09 PM on October 7, 2012


Perhaps meet them in a police station lobby?
posted by calgirl at 9:08 PM on October 7, 2012


If this person doesn't have any nefarious motives then they shouldn't mind dropping off your wallet at the police station. After all, it's no harder than meeting you at Starbucks our wherever. If they do have less than pure motives then you've dodged a bullet
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:16 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just meet them in a Starbucks or something. Living your life like you're always one brief lapse of abject paranoia away from disaster is no way to go. What are they going to do in a Starbucks?
posted by Justinian at 9:35 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just in case it's a ruse to rob you, leave a friend in your home while you're gone, OK?
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:52 PM on October 7, 2012


I completely agree with the idea to meet them in a coffee shop and make sure that you give them ten bucks or so for getting your stuff back to you. You still need to cancel all your cards , etc, etc. If you are very paranoid about it all then meet then inside a bank. No one is going to do anything at all to you inside a bank.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 10:17 PM on October 7, 2012


When this happened to me, the person fed-exed it to me without my asking. This was in Manhattan.

The police are correct - have drop off and pick it up.

Why take the chance?

Get their info and send them a Starbucks gift card or similar as a thank you gesture.

Why take a chance??
posted by jbenben at 11:37 PM on October 7, 2012


When someone called me in a similar situation I tried to have them drop it at a specific place for me. I couldn't get them to understand as they were drunk and seemed to have a specific script in their heads which included me giving them a reward. Eventually they agreed and hung up. I never got my purse back.

I (a woman) would not go if I were you.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:52 PM on October 7, 2012


I was all for caution and then RustyBrooks blew my mind. I think he's right, with the proviso that you, as such, should not meet them anywhere that you would not normally comfortably interact with a complete stranger.
posted by jojobobo at 11:56 PM on October 7, 2012


If you meet them, the worst case scenario is they're some kind of Rube Goldberg robber in good samaritan's clothes. If you don't meet them, the worst case scenario is that you've let paranoia overtake gratitude/faith in humanity.

Myself, I would meet them in a coffee shop so I could buy them a muffin and say thanks.
posted by feets at 12:31 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, as someone who has found a wallet and a passport in the last year:

The passport was easy. It was clearly from a kid going to some summer program at the university I walk past on the way to work. I dropped it off at the security office, which was conveniently located on my route. They took charge of it. No big deal.

The wallet I found under a bush at a sharp turn coming out of my apartment building on a Friday morning. I checked the ID, but the addresses were elsewhere. Given the location, it was probably someone in the building, so I took it to work, called the rental office, gave them the woman's name and asked if they could call her contact number, give her mine, and tell her I had her wallet and it seemed to be intact. She called, I explained I would be at work until x time, and I expected to be at a nearby laundromat between 4 and 6 that evening. She agreed to stop by, did, got her wallet, said "thanks," and left.

Since I leave for work at 6am, I couldn't easily take it anywhere and still make my transit. I could have dropped it off at the rental office in the afternoon, but they keep short hours, so she might not have been able to get her wallet until Monday. The closest police station would be a 30 minute walk each way for me. Being asked to spend even more time and effort on returning the wallet than I had already spent would have been... well, kind of annoying. I would have been happy with a different meeting spot close to the apartment, though, if she had suspected the laundromat was a trap or a scam.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:16 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wallet loser here! I've lost my wallet three times and had it found and returned all three times (lucky me)- once someone turned it into a security guard so I picked it up from him, once someone turned it in to the bus driver, so I picked it up from him, and once the guy who found it called me so I picked it up from him at a coffee shop. As long as you meet the person in a public place, I don't think there's any sort of safety risk (the "robbing your house" thing sounds farfetched unless you carry a house key in your wallet...there are much easier ways to case houses).

Overall, these incidences reinforced two core beliefs:
1. Always fill out the little information card that comes inside a wallet
2. Most people are nice and like to be helpful
posted by emd3737 at 3:29 AM on October 8, 2012


My biggest worry would be that you'd get there, and the Wallet Finder would pressure you for a reward. I mean, look how NICE he was to find your wallet, and you'd think that someone like you would be GRATEFUL for all the HARD WORK he did tracking you down, so surely you could be a little more generous...

I am a woman, and distrustful of people. I would take the cop's advice.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:49 AM on October 8, 2012


Usually when I find something with an address, I'll just mail it to them. My return address is on the package or envelope in case the address sent to is no longer valid. But once someone even sent me money to cover the shipping charges.

People usually don't have their own phone numbers in their wallets, so unless you do, he must have put in some effort to get your number. So I'm thinking you are probably cute and he wants a chance to meet you. If you want to avoid getting hit on, just tell him to mail it and you will send cost of S/H in return.
posted by udon at 6:19 AM on October 8, 2012


It depends what things you had in your wallet that might identify you as a mark for more money. Did you have cash inside? If so tell them to keep enough to cover mailing costs and then to mail it to you.

Sure, it would be nice to shake hands with the person and congratulate them if you have time but mail might be the easier way to go.
posted by JJ86 at 6:25 AM on October 8, 2012


I'd go with a friend.
Cops generally project their own cynicism, paranoia and distrust onto everyone else, but you don't have to buy it.
posted by LonnieK at 7:36 AM on October 8, 2012


tl;dr: A nice old Irish man once found my wallet in the Costco parking lot, tried to drop it off when I wasn't home, left a note, I went to pick up my wallet, and the next day I dropped off some homemade cookies.

Meeting at Starbucks or any other highly visible public space may feel unsafe, or reckless, or risky, and that's totally valid. But it is actually safe. (It's kind of how the whole internet dating thing works.)

If this person doesn't have any nefarious motives then they shouldn't mind dropping off your wallet at the police station. After all, it's no harder than meeting you at Starbucks our wherever. If they do have less than pure motives then you've dodged a bullet"

Due to [boring explanation] I have to park my car 6.5 blocks from my house. If I found someone's wallet and they asked me to walk a total of 13 blocks and also get in my car and drive somewhere I would tell them, 'I'm sorry, that's just not possible'. I'd meet them at the corner Starbucks without hesitating, but assuming that everyone has the time, health and ready access to transportation is coming from a place of privilege.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2012


That doesn't make sense. If someone wanted to rob/murder you why would they tell you they had your wallet?
posted by moammargaret at 8:20 AM on October 8, 2012


Thanks! From everything in the thread - I can't really imagine a plausible scenario where someone tries to rob you by returning your wallet. (As several people pointed out: Sure, a person with your wallet can mug you. But so can a person without your wallet.)

I realize that part of the cost-benefit of lost-wallet-returning is how pleasant it is to be on either side of that equation (I've been a returner of lost wallets and phones at least a couple of times, and I think had one wallet returned). I think it's really one of the great small pleasures of life. It seemed to me like it would diminish that pleasure a bit to express potential caution about the person returning the wallet. If there was real cause for caution, it might be worth it. But in this case, not for me: I'd rather trade the extra pleasantness of the caution-free wallet return against the apparently minuscule risk reduction that extra cautiousness might bring.
posted by ManInSuit at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the end, the person called and offered to drop the wallet off with me at my home. Talk about service! He came by with the wallet. I offered him a small cash reward, which he accepted. All went well! (Of course, maybe now he will come back and rob my house or whatever. But again - very hard to see how returning my wallet would help him do that...)
posted by ManInSuit at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I once found somebody's wallet and tracked them down because of the (expensive) transit pass that they had in there; the whole thing had fallen out by where a car was parked, and I could only imagine how he felt getting home from the Big City without it. I think by the time I got in touch he had already cancelled his cards, but he was really grateful, and the next day he came by my house with his kid and some cookies. Warm fuzzies all around.

Life is too short to spend it all in the wors-case scenario. Glad you had a happy ending.
posted by acm at 10:46 AM on October 8, 2012


Good on you for making the world a slightly better place, ManinSuit.
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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