5 rules to follow when you find or steal a wallet or handbag

In an ideal world, wallets and purses would never be stolen and lost wallets and purses would always be returned to their owners in perfect order. Sadly, we do not live in an ideal world. Wallets and purses are routinely stolen and frequently lost.

I have been the victim of a pickpocket once in my life, and I have lost my wallet two other times. I know how frustrating it is to have this happen to you.

With this in mind, I would like to broker a compromise between the thieves of the world who steal these items and the Good Samaritans who find and return them. This is not an ideal nor entirely moral solution to the problem, but it is one that I feel like everyone can agree to. My goal is to arrive at a point in which a person could lose a wallet or purse and be reasonably satisfied in terms of getting some of the contents back.

To this end, I have created a list of five rules that I believe would achieve this goal. They are rules to which thieves and Good Samaritans could both abide without much trouble, and they would leave all parties involved fairly satisfied with the outcome.

In the event you find or steal a wallet or purse, these are the five steps that all people should follow:

  1. The cash is automatically yours regardless of who you are or how much there is. Keep it all. It is the last thing a person is concerned about when his or her wallet or purse turns up missing and the most tempting thing to keep when a wallet is found or stolen. If you are a thief, consider it your profit.  If you are a Good Samaritan, consider it your reward.
  2. If you want to use the lost or stolen credit cards in order to purchase flat screen televisions and train tickets to Florida, you may do so, but keep in mind that you risk prosecution in the process. Thankfully, credit card companies protect consumers from the majority of these losses, and they are exceptionally efficient at issuing new cards and getting them into the hands of consumers in record time.
  3. Keep the wallet or purse if you so desire. Though I realize that some handbags can cost thousands of dollars, you have to be a crazy person to spend that much on a handbag in the first place, and you have to be even crazier to allow it to be lost or stolon. Let this unfortunate incident serve as a lesson to you: Spending thousands of dollars on handbag might garner the attention and admiration of similarly insane individuals, but carrying around an item in your hand worth thousands of dollars is also a dangerous proposition.
  4. Leave the debit card behind. Even though you will never be able to guess the PIN in order to access the cash, the rightful owner will still have to close their old checking account and open a new one, just to be safe. This is annoying since it necessitates a trip to the bank and requires the owner to forget an old checking account number and memorize a new one. Not an easy task.
  5. Return everything else contained within the wallet or purse by either dropping it off in a US Postal Service mailbox or handing it over to the police. Driver’s license, passport, library card, gym membership card, AAA card, customer loyalty cards, photographs and anything else one might find in a wallet or handbag. While cash and credit cards are technically the most valuable items that you are likely to find, it’s the other items found in a wallet or purse that are most difficult (and sometimes impossible) to replace.

Think of it this way:

If your wallet or purse were stolen today and I could guarantee the safe return of everything inside except for the cash, credit cards, and wallet or purse itself within two business days, would you take that deal?

I think most people would.

We either agree to abide by my rules or you risk losing everything.

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6 Responses to 5 rules to follow when you find or steal a wallet or handbag

  1. Kate Green says:

    As someone who has been mugged twice, I heartily agree with your rules. In fact, when my Coach bag was returned in December of 1996 after being stolen off the seat of my car while sitting in traffic, I was a little sad. (Noapologies for the expensive purse, a bribe from a step mother to be ), but when it was found by a school age child who brought it to school and still had my work ID, I only really wanted ATM card, checkbook,etc. Still have the bag, but rarely use it!

  2. John Byrd says:

    Well I have a counterproposal. How about if you find a wallet that’s not yours, you find the rightful owner and give the entire contents back to them. And if you think that might be a bit unfair, then go fuck yourself and die you fucking thief.

    • matthew says:

      John,

      You sound slightly perturbed. Angry, even. Perhaps your anger has marginalized your reading ability for a moment. Did you not read the first three paragraphs, where I state that your response would be the ideal response?

      Also, while I propose these rules to would-be thieves, I have yet to resort to theft myself.

      Thanks as always for the comment.

  3. Ann Quin says:

    I agree whole heartedly with this post. I might also add, there are two sides to every story. While some people steal for the joy of it (usually midlife crisis kind and teenagers impresses friends), most steal because they feel as if they have no other choice. When I was 24, I had left my abusive husband without ever having a job. I had no family but my four year old. Within a week I had a waitresses job and had spent all our saving on a week in a weekly hotel. Sadly enough, my job required me to train for four days (no tips, no cash) and while we had a roof for the moment we had no cash. We were down to our last twenty five dollars and three days before id get any money from my job. While at mcdonalds that night, eating from the dollar menu, a woman got up from her table (in the back) to get her order. She left her purse. My daughter and I had just finished and stood up. I told her to go get a refill before we left. When she turned around I grabbed the bag. And quickly left. Inside was 300 dollars. Im not proud and I feel bad, but that 300 saved not only my life but my daughters.

    • matthew says:

      Thanks so much for sharing that, Ann.

      I’ve been in awful situations myself, homeless and without food for months, but I’ve always been grateful that in my lowest, most desperate moments, I was on my own without a wife or child to support. It’s incredibly hard to be poor, hungry, and homeless, but it’s so much easier to get by when you only need to worry about yourself.

      I can’t imagine what I might have done if I had my son or daughter. Probably anything that it took to keep them safe and healthy.

      Hoping you’ve forgiven yourself for doing what you needed to at the time.

    • Sherrod345 says:

      Moms do what they have to do for their babies!! I get it!!

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