Massillon, OH asked in Intellectual Property for Ohio

Q: I live in Ohio. Found misc property on road. No owner identifying info. Can I keep?

Not money or a phone. Googled it and value is around $300

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: In Ohio, so long as you cannot reasonably find the owner of said property AND you did not find it on a private road, it sounds like you'll be ok. This sounds like lost property under Ohio law. You're going to be obligated to make a good faith effort to find the true owner. Easiest way for you to do this is turn the object in question over to a local sheriff, explain where you found it, and let them try to find the owner. If you choose to hand it over to the sheriff, you should also ask the sheriff how long until they determine that the property has been abandoned and/or when you should check in on the property. Heres an attorney general opinion regarding a similar situation in Ohio and a canoe. Remember, your claim of right at this point is superior to that of the sheriff. Right now and based on the limited facts I have, you appear to have a claim on the property over anyone but the true owner.

As a side note, you should really be honest with yourself on just how easy it would be to find the true owner. For example, if the object has a street address or a phone number on it (or if you try to hide evidence of the true owner), you won't be able to claim that you made a good faith effort to return it should the true owner find you with it. Good luck!

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