Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property

I received a call on my iPhone from Pee Wee’s owner asking me if I had seen Pee Wee’s new pink collar. I assured her that I would keep an eye out for it and hung up the phone. Then I noticed that the cats were giving one another nervous glances.   I took the call using the speaker function of my iPhone, and the cats were able to hear the conversation. They seemed to be a little nervous. I decided to check their toy box, and, sure enough, there was Pee Wee’s new collar, tangled with a toy dog bone, electrical wire, erotic pictures of French cats, a poorly scrawled thank you note from the Old Tom, and various other items of indeterminate origin.

I asked the cats for an explanation as to how Pee Wee’s collar got into their toy box. They said that they found it on the front porch. I informed them that keeping the property of another that has been lost or mislaid is against the law. The cats indicated that they would like to speak with their San Francisco attorneys before making any further statement regarding the collar. I allowed them to place the call, but they discovered that their attorneys were attending a convention in Las Vegas and would be out of the office for two weeks and could not be disturbed.

The cats retreated downstairs to confer. They considered telling me that the delicate pink collar was a gift from Pee Wee, but they quickly discarded that idea. All the animals in the neighborhood know that the cats only wear black leather.   Next, they hit on the perfect solution: They will place the collar on Bowser’s property and tell Pee Wee that they saw Bowser with her collar in his mouth. I get wind of their plan by eavesdropping.

The cats announce that they are going to Pee Wee’s house to return the collar, but I notice, from the window, that they turn away from her house and go in the opposite direction, toward Bowser’s. I leap out the front door and call to the cats to bring back the collar.   I explain that they have a duty to return the collar to Pee Wee since they know that she lost or mislaid it, and if they didn’t know at the time when they found it that it belonged to Pee Wee they had a duty to report it to the police.

The cats have had enough of these laws that seem to be designed to make their lives miserable. They drop the collar in the street and leave it there.   I pick it up and return it to Pee Wee’s owner next door. Pee Wee has been watching everything from her favorite window ledge.   I can almost hear her purring through the glass.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973. His practice areas include business law, real estate, elder law and estate planning.

© Allen Drescher