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Lost and found property

How we deal with lost and found property

Found property

If a member of the public finds someone’s property, their legal obligation is to make reasonable enquiries to try to reunite it with the owner.

Members of public are encouraged to retain the property from the outset and the police service will not accept and record found property except under certain circumstances where retention by the finder shall not be permitted.  The exceptions are:

  • Where the finder is a paid or unpaid servant of the Police service.
  • Where the property was found on police premises, in a police vehicle, in a vehicle hired to police or otherwise used by police.
  • Where the property is suspected of being of evidential value or could be used to support the commission of offences.
  • Where the property is an item requiring special action (see further information below).
  • Where it would be unlawful for the finder to retain the property.
  • Where in the opinion of an approved person it would be unwise to retain the property.
  • Cash of any amount and items capable of containing data – for example mobile phones or computers.

We will handle found property under three main categories, having taken into account the above exceptions. The categories are:

  • Accepted and recorded – Something is appropriate or legally required to be brought to a police station so that we can fulfill our obligations under law.
  • Accepted and processed immediately – For items that fall into this category presented to front counters, the front counter would take the item and forward it on to the appropriate organisation as listed on the rear of the item. For calls into the organisation, it is recommended that the public are directed to forward the items themselves, as requested on the rear of the item.
  • Not accepted – These are items that will no longer be accepted as found property unless they happen to meet one of the other caveats detailed below as an exception.

 Accepted and recorded

  • Items capable of containing data for example mobile phones, computers, tablets.
  • Cash within wallets that are identifiable.
  • Items suspected of being involved in crime.
  • Firearms and ammunition.
  • Drugs, medications and poisons.
  • Foreign Identity document (passports, driving licences, official ID etc.)

Accepted and processed immediately

  • Passports
  • Bank cards
  • Identity cards
  • Personal documentation (e.g. bank statements, benefit books)
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Driving Licences

Not accepted

  • Bicycles
  • Empty handbags, bags, wallets and purses
  • Cases
  • Clothing
  • Perishable goods
  • Animals
  • Rubbish/Waste
  • Umbrellas
  • Keys
  • Spectacles
  • Watches
  • Jewellery

* If any of the above items are valuable AND identifiable, please contact the police station front counter in the area the property was found and they may be able to assist

Responsibilities of the finder

A person finding property is not legally required either to hand it in, or to report the find to the police but must, however, take reasonable steps to find the owner to avoid committing an offence of theft.  Reasonable steps may include putting a notice in a newspaper, in a local shop window or on the garden gate. What is reasonable will depend on the nature of the property and the circumstances in which it is found.

Losing possession of the property does not mean that the owner has lost legal title or interest. However, after the owner, the person with the next best title to the property is the finder and after taking those reasonable steps by:

  • reporting it to or handing it to the police, or
  • taking other reasonable steps to find the owner,

The finder can keep the property (except for those items of property that the police will record). The owner still has a right to the property and may have it restored by taking civil action.

Unclaimed items of property

Property items that we will accept and record will be stored securely for a 28 day period to allow time for the rightful owner the claim the property.  If the rightful owner has not claimed the property, the finder has 14 days after the 28 day period to claim the property. Certain property items cannot be claimed by the finder such as firearms, drugs or any item that may contain personal data.

Found property that is not claimed by the owner within 28 days, and is not suitable for repatriation with the finder, will be disposed of at the earliest opportunity.

North Yorkshire Police dispose of property via auction wherever possible. Proceeds from auctions and unclaimed currency are awarded as community grants from the Police Property Fund in support of local charitable initiatives. Where this is not possible the items are securely destroyed or recycled (ensuring all personal data is sanitised)

Lost property

If you have lost an item of property that falls into the ‘Accepted and recorded’ found property category, please call into the police station or call 101 and select option 2 and ask for the police station by name.

Although a report will not be made of the loss of the item, we will search our property database to check to see if the property has been found and handed to us.

There are a number of services available where you can report lost property:

  • Lost Box – Free service
  • Immobilise  – Free service
  • Reportmyloss  – This allows losers to print a numbered ownership certificate, confirming the details of the loss if this is needed for insurance purposes. (Please note there will be a charge for this by the service provider)

All police services and insurance companies have access to these lost property records giving you the best chance of being reunited with your property.

North Yorkshire Police do not take reports of lost property and cannot provide reference numbers for insurance claims. Download our letter to present to your insurers for confirmation of this: Insurance notice

Bank cards and other official documents

If you have lost/found debit or credit cards, or other official documents such as birth certificates and bank statements report the loss/find directly to the issuing organisation.

UK Passports

To report a lost, UK passport go to www.gov.uk/report-a-lost-or-stolen-passport

If you find a British passport, cut off the top right hand corner of the passport and then go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/found-passport to read what to do next

UK driving licences

If you have lost your UK driving license, visit: https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/driving-licences

For Found UK driving licences they should be returned to the DVLA

Lost dogs

Reports of lost dogs should be directed to your local dog warden.

To find your local dog warden enter your postal code into this web page: www.gov.uk/check-council-missing-dog

You can also report them missing or found at http://www.doglost.co.uk/


Where the item is a pedal cycle, we recommend that you register and report the loss at: https://www.bikeregister.com/

Public place / premises

If you think you have lost your property in a public place/premises or on public transport, such as:

  • Licensed premises (pubs, bars, nightclubs)
  • Private premises (house, hotel, hostel)
  • Business premises (restaurants, shops, supermarkets, offices, entertainment venues)
  • Educational premises (schools, universities, colleges)
  • Public transport (trains, buses, trams)
  • Taxis (including Private Hire vehicles)
  • Airport

You should make direct contact as they often operate their own lost and found property service and are better placed to deal with your enquiry.