By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you find a buried treasure, can you keep it?
A family of treasure hunters in Florida found gold coins and chains during a diving expedition over a wreckage site. The family, which owns the rights to dive on the wreckage site – said $300,000 is a conservative estimate for the worth of the haul. (All I ever found was about 63 cents in change.)
Many people who have a metal detecting hobby (and don’t let anyone tell you it’s uncool) – along with those of us lucky enough to happen upon a treasure – want to know: can you keep it?
In most states, a person who finds property that he knows belongs to someone else and was lost or that was delivered by mistake is guilty of theft if he doesn’t give it back. So if you find something that you know belongs to someone else, you have to return it.
If you find property while you’re trespassing, that property belongs to the property owner. If you find a treasure on public property, or if, like the Florida family, you have bought the rights to scout for the treasure, then you probably can keep it, which will at least cover a small part of the cost of the metal detector you bought to find it.