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What's your limit to keep what you found on the road?

Old 07-31-19, 10:31 AM
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What's your limit to keep what you found on the road?

I found a water bottle on the trail today, and dear reader, I kept it. It was on a steep and rocky portion of the dirt path parallel to the MUP. It's Specialized bottle but it's not special. I'd only seen one other mountain biker this morning and the trails are also fairly well trafficked by dog walkers and, rarely, horse walkers. I judged someone going all the way around probably wouldn't come back for a lost bottle.

In the other thread someone posted about finding a large roll of cash, which he took to the cops. But most people finding gloves and wrenches and so on seem to have no trouble keeping them. This bottle had a slim but nonzero chance of being retrieved and it was lost by a fellow trail user.

What's your limit?
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Old 07-31-19, 10:42 AM
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I will take home discarded tubes to patch, but not much else. That the original owner might want them back has never crossed my mind.
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Old 07-31-19, 11:04 AM
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I think the best thing I found was a tire lever, but I'd probably keep most things as long I have a use and as they aren't valuable. However, I wouldn't keep a used bottle, just something about not knowing who used it or how it was cared for.
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Old 07-31-19, 11:09 AM
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However, I wouldn't keep a used bottle, just something about not knowing who used it or how it was cared for.
Yeah, it would have to be a pretty nice bottle. I would bleach it out for sure...
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Old 07-31-19, 11:21 AM
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I'll keep it if I might use it. I'll return it if there's contact information (like a billfold with a driver's license I took to the police station once). If it might cause me a flat, I'll take it and dispose of it.
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Old 07-31-19, 11:27 AM
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If I can reasonably find the owner, then I'll return an item (assuming I don't find the item offensive, more on that later).

If the item is worth < $50, then the effort of tracking down the owner is likely more than the actual item.

I found a pristine Leatherman Skeletool Pocket knife, and knocked on the nearby house who said they lost it. On the other hand I've found road worn knives with no obvious owner which I kept.

A bunch of really nice tools were lying between the road an a pond, more in a pile than if they had fallen off of a car. So, I walked down and told the neighbor who said his brother had been working on some equipment and apparently just left the tools by the road.

On the other hand, I have picked up numerous sockets and wrenches with no "owner".

I found a $1000+ Carbon Fiber road bike lying beside the road. I was puzzling on how to find the owner when fortunately the owner found me. No issues there as I was going towards the house rather than away from the house, but I have thought I should have called the sheriff's office and started a paper trail quicker.

I mentioned "offensive" as a special category. Boating down the Deschutes river, we saw a raft that had flipped, apparently supporting a number of under-aged kids.

We never saw the group again, but for the rest of the day we were picking up cans of fake beer floating down the river.

I had no desire to try to track down the kids and give it back to them.
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Old 07-31-19, 11:28 AM
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Road loot is road loot. I find tools all the time. Money every now and again. A couple of bike headlights/taillights, a few water bottles. Found a rosary once. Seemed wrong to just leave it in the gutter.

If I'm not supposed to keep stuff, what am I supposed to do with said stuff? Find a folding knife in the middle of an intersection, do I print out flyers when I get home, hoping to find the owner? Maybe they have a picture of it in their wallet?

The only items that I would try to find an owner: cellphones, IDs, credit cards-- basically anything that can be immediately tied to an identity. $5 bill in the gutter? I spend that on tacos.
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Old 07-31-19, 12:00 PM
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When I find wallets, I do my best to return them to the owner. In one case that meant riding about ten miles out of my way; I was out for a ride and didn't intend to go that way, but no big deal. Another wallet was clearly way out of my way, so I dropped the whole thing in a USPS mailbox and let someone else deal with it.

I've found several drivers licenses, sometimes with other cards, the detritus of looted wallets. I usually am able to contact the owner and mail them back. The people who get their cards back are always really thankful, offering rewards that I decline, and so on. I always feel funny about this, because the wallet has been stolen and they have no way of knowing that I'm not the one who stole it. But no one has ever suggested I was.

I found a perfectly good cell phone last year. I kept it in my office, charged it periodically, waiting for it to ring. I figured when it rang I'd answer and then I could find its owner by talking to whoever was calling. No one ever called. I eventually gave up, tossed the SIM card and wiped the memory clean, and now use it as a music player or GPS and similar things that I don't want clogging up my actual phone.

Tools and loose cash, those I just pocket. Yes, two crisp $100 bills I found on the street in NYC, and they went straight into my wallet. As I stopped, I was simultaneously thinking "I hope no one is watching" and "I hope the guy who dropped this sees me and flags me down." Well, no one flagged me down, and I kept the cash.
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Old 07-31-19, 12:15 PM
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I returned a cell phone (by arranging a meeting with the owners girlfriend). don't think I would even pick up a water bottle. last week my sunglasses equipped w a mounted mirror fell out of my feed bag. didn't realize it for about 1/2 mile. they were cheap glasses but I've had the mirror for a while & I like it. as I back tracked I really hoped they weren't crushed at a road crossing or picked up by a rider (to keep). turned out they were just before a road crossing which was weird cuz that wasn't a bumpy section. maybe someone picked them up & put them where they would be easy to see rather than leave them on the dirt part of the trail. I passed 2 riders & asked about sunglasses & they said yeah, back there as we all sped past ea. other. sure enough, they were safe & sound, not even scratched & the mirror only needed a tiny tweak. I once picked up a single glove, a nice one & moved it to a place where it could be seen & found, then later when I saw a ranger, told her about it

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Old 07-31-19, 01:18 PM
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Credit/Debit cards, IDs, phones, I try to return. I found a nice woman's Pearl Izumi jacket once. I put it up on C/L lost and found, but no one contacted me, so I gave it away. I found a soccer cleat once, then the mate 1/2 mile down the road. Gave those away, too. I suppose if it were easy enough to return items I would, but cash, hand tools, sunglasses, headlights, tail lights, water bottles, I keep.
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Old 07-31-19, 01:25 PM
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I've found a few credit cards (without additional ID). I suppose I should be more proactive at returning them, but instead I just make sure they're taken out of circulation, and assume the banks will replace them.
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Old 07-31-19, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I found a water bottle on the trail today, and dear reader, I kept it. It was on a steep and rocky portion of the dirt path parallel to the MUP. It's Specialized bottle but it's not special. I'd only seen one other mountain biker this morning and the trails are also fairly well trafficked by dog walkers and, rarely, horse walkers. I judged someone going all the way around probably wouldn't come back for a lost bottle.

In the other thread someone posted about finding a large roll of cash, which he took to the cops. But most people finding gloves and wrenches and so on seem to have no trouble keeping them. This bottle had a slim but nonzero chance of being retrieved and it was lost by a fellow trail user.

What's your limit?
Water bottle - super gross. No effing way.

Gloves - less gross, still ugh. No.

Wrenches - fine, but... No. Not mine.

Honestly I don't understand why anyone would want to keep anything they found in the road, on the trail, whatever. Like, if someone lost a wallet, for sure pick it up and try to return it to them, that's just the right thing to do. A discarded/lost water bottle or glove is just trash and it blows my mind that anyone with the means to get their own would drink out of or wear one.
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Old 07-31-19, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
Honestly I don't understand why anyone would want to keep anything they found in the road, on the trail, whatever.


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Old 07-31-19, 07:47 PM
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Yeah, like... I can get (and have got) my own vice grips and pocket knives. I don't need any of these things badly enough to pick up someone else's lost item from the road.

Edit: locking pliers, whatever, idk. Tools!
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Old 07-31-19, 08:15 PM
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I never find much of anything. I see many articles of clothing, which is always a bit of a puzzle. A wallet I would attempt to return, a wad of cash I would keep.
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Old 07-31-19, 08:20 PM
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I dunno. That's very similar to saying, "I see people's punctured tubes and spent CO2s on the ground, but why would I pick those up?" Because that's what we should do. I likely don't need another pocket knife, but I don't need to leave it lying in the middle of the street, either.

I'd no sooner leave a $10 pair of Vise Grips lying in the street than I would a $10 bill.
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Old 07-31-19, 08:43 PM
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Sometimes road trash just needs to get moved off of the road.

I have a cobble stone that I found in the middle of a bike lane (on a road without cobbles). It could be dangerous for the inattentive riders.

I could have just thrown it in the bushes, but then it will remain as clutter in the bushes.

I've picked up numerous screws and nails that I find on the road. Not all of them, but enough that perhaps it has made a difference in the number of bicycles and cars that got flat tires.

Decent screwdriver or wrench one day. Let it get run over by a dozen cars, or get tossed in the weeds, and it is roadside trash the next day.

And, I've reused some things, from red flags to knives to various wrenches and sockets.

I haven't used this piece of plywood yet, but it will get used for something. Also there is the 2x4. It will be handy someday. And, that General Trailer flag was from an earlier find. Not real useful on that load, but it will be used as a load marker from time to time.

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Old 07-31-19, 10:49 PM
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I wouldn’t pick up water bottles or articles of clothing for reuse but I would probably pick them up for disposal. Other items, however, are fair game. I seldom find money but the best thing I’ve ever found was 2 fly rods with reels and line in a fly rod case. One was a St Croix 5 wt...kind of hohum...but the other one was a G. Loomis 2 wt which I still have and use. It’s a great rod and makes even the smallest fish feel like a whale. I’ve even caught a 15” bass on it which was like snagging Moby Dick!
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Old 07-31-19, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I found a water bottle on the trail today, and dear reader, I kept it. It was on a steep and rocky portion of the dirt path parallel to the MUP. It's Specialized bottle but it's not special. I'd only seen one other mountain biker this morning and the trails are also fairly well trafficked by dog walkers and, rarely, horse walkers. I judged someone going all the way around probably wouldn't come back for a lost bottle.

In the other thread someone posted about finding a large roll of cash, which he took to the cops. But most people finding gloves and wrenches and so on seem to have no trouble keeping them. This bottle had a slim but nonzero chance of being retrieved and it was lost by a fellow trail user.

What's your limit?
With cash:

If it's obvious someone dropped it - I just wait for about half an hour, looking if someone is coming to look for it. Then take it home.
If there's a wallet with info - then I find the owner, return it.
If it's a stashed roll, you know it's shady business - down to one's judgement of how risky it is.

In all cases, when it's at some public/private place, not just the street/woods, I keep a hold of it for a month, letting the owner know I had found it and leaving my contact info if anyone comes looking for it, but not disclosing the amount (legitimate owner should know it).

For things, not cash:

I make a public post (Facebook etc.), saying what I found, but expecting the legitimate owner to know what it looks like (so no "original" picture of it).
After 6 months, it's mine.

There is no use taking anything to the police, not here.


I have found both money and things often.

My last find was a nice piece of bolt cutters, about a month ago, with a string attached (for hiding underneath a jacket, over a shoulder). Stashed/apparently hidden in some boosh. Used for stealing bicycles usually, once only used from the looks of it.
Checked if there's any video of the tools being used reported to the police, waited for a week. The police had no interest in it. With the amount of crime and corruption, bike thefts are not a priority.
So I wiped it clean, lubed it and put it in my bike shop - so I don't have to hack or pick stuck customer locks.
I consider that the first thing I ever stole - from the thieves, apparently. I'm sure they'll get a new one and continue with their business. Just a small inconvenience/setback.

Before that: a nice Ortlieb saddle bag, with some very cool multitool and spare parts.
Gave it some 6 months, posted on Facebook and local cycling groups.

After that - took the tools and the parts, gave the bag to a friend who needed one.
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Old 08-01-19, 01:27 AM
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@DrIsotope spyderco knives are nice. 8cr isn't exactly top of the line steel, but i bet that thing still retails around $50 usd.
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Old 08-01-19, 08:27 AM
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I found a wallet once. No cash but had some guy's license and credit cards and a company ID card. I put it in an envelope and mailed it back to the address on his ID. No return address though as I didn't feel like being accused of stealing his cash when I was trying to be nice and giving him $2 worth of postage.

Found a paid of sunglasses once and kept those. They were in the middle of nowhere. I hadn't seen another person in miles. Was sure I'd never find the owner.

Mostly I just find nails and screws for some odd reason. I pick those up to throw them away so they don't end up in my car tires the next day.
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Old 08-01-19, 08:35 AM
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What's your limit to keep what you found on the road?



"One MILLION dollars."

I have yet to find a wallet with anything in it. I've found cash several times, loose bills often end up stuck in cyclone fences. Cash, unless it's a whole suitcase full, or you saw the person drop it, I don't know what else to do but take it. Personal items I'll just leave and hope the person comes back and finds it.
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Old 08-01-19, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by denada View Post
@DrIsotope spyderco knives are nice. 8cr isn't exactly top of the line steel, but i bet that thing still retails around $50 usd.
Well! My folding pliers in my bike bag is from the checkout line at the hardware store. Swiss Army knives cost $35. A $50 just-a-knife would be a huge (and hard to justify) upgrade.

There's now a lot of "not good enough to keep" responses. That's ok, I just wasn't expecting it. I originally approached it from the other direction - what's good enough to feel guilty about keeping, at least without making a reasonable attempt to find the owner. The other thread to pull, I don't see much of, is whether identifying with the loser makes a difference. If I found $500 worth of fishing tackle I'd probably be posting a lost-and-found Craigslist ad about it, at least, although if no one turned up I'd feel absolved.
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Old 08-01-19, 10:28 AM
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Once while riding the backroads of southern NJ, I found a large Craftsman crescent type wrench along a roadway. We're talking maybe 16 inches long and weighing, who knows, 10 pounds? I was on a minimal road bike, so I stuffed the large end down the center jersey* pocket, and rode as straight as I could. Kept the thing in there the rest of a somewhat long ride.

It's now in my work room as the largest adjustable wrench that I own.

*BF "50 Plus" jersey for forum bonus points.
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Old 08-01-19, 10:46 AM
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There is the thought, leave it and the owner might come back and pick it up.

But, there are some items (tools & etc) that I've left and are gone the next time I pass. Unfortunately, one never knows if it was the original owner that picked them up, or someone else that passed by.

On the other hand, low value stuff (trash) often simply accumulates depending on the place, cleaning crews, etc.
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