Social Question

jca's avatar

Can you give your opinion as to whether "Finders Keepers" applies in this example of a lost wedding ring?

Asked by jca (36043points) September 12th, 2012

My coworker came to work the other day and said he got an MRI over the weekend and left his wedding ring in the dressing area of the MRI place, and someone took it. He called when he realized (at home) that his wedding ring was left, and they could not locate it. The manager of the MRI place called him to offer condolences, and he asked if they could contact the two other patients who had MRI’s that day. The MRI place said no. He understands that he could not get their names, for obvious reasons about privacy, but he wanted the MRI staff to contact the other two patients and ask if they have it. He said he would offer a reward of $100. The MRI place is not doing that so it’s probably in the hands of a new owner. He and I were discussing what the ring is worth and if it would benefit the new owner to hock it.

I told him that the gold in the ring was probably worth more than $100. It might be beneficial for the person to keep it.

We then had a friendly debate:

He feels that if someone took the ring and received a phone call asking if they had it, their conscience and concern about getting caught would lead them to return the ring. I feel that the person who has the ring should not fear getting caught, as they did nothing wrong. Finders Keepers. I feel that for them, it may be easier to keep the ring and not admit it. He feels that whoever took it “stole it” and should be afraid of getting caught.

He said it was not the person’s property and if they took something from the doctor’s office, it is stealing. I said unless it’s clearly the doctor’s property, such as on doctor’s desk, file area, etc. it’s one thing but on the floor of a dressing area (presumably) it’s not stealing.

He feels that if they “stole it” and receive a call asking if they have it, it will scare them and make them paranoid, and they’ll want to return it.

What do my fellow Jellies think?

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34 Answers

janbb's avatar

I think that “finders keepers” is a very crude ethical standard and that it would certainly behoove anyone who found an item that obviously belonged to someone else to make every effort to return it.

CWOTUS's avatar

A person with a conscience would have seen the ring in a public place, would have known that it didn’t belong there, and would have turned it in to the receptionist, nurse, whoever was in charge of the area and said something like, “I hope you can get this to the right owner.”

Whoever picked it up and pocketed it isn’t worried about crises of conscience.

Coloma's avatar

I do not agree with the finders keepers mantra in this case.
A $10 bill in the gutter is one thing, stealing a wedding ring is quite another.
A person with a conscience would have turned the ring into the administrative staff to be kept as a lost and found item. Pocketing a lost wedding ring is right up there with stealing candy from a baby.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s obviously a wedding ring and whoever took that ring in that office setting is a total douche and this is usually where Karma comes into play.

deni's avatar

Who fuckin does that, especially in a doctors office, and especially a wedding ring? No, “finders keepers” does not apply, does it ever really? And I think it’s bullshit that the doctors office won’t call the other 2 patients. They’re not giving him any of the other patients information, and it’s only two people. I’d be pissed, and yeah, bad karma is coming someones way.

gailcalled's avatar

Anyone who is comfortable stealing may be equally comfortable lying about it.

I can’t imagine that a phone query would trigger an attack of remorse, sad to say.

The gold in a ring is mixed with other alloys; to extract the gold only is expensive and would only make sense if someone had a large collection of gold jewelry.

It is unconscionable behavior, of course.

bigfootprint's avatar

subterfuge—it is stealing—

if one found it on a public street thats a different story—

wundayatta's avatar

Found in a changing area? No. Finders, keepers does not apply. Especially for an MRI where you have to take off all that stuff. Plus it would be pretty easy to figure out who the ring belongs to.

The patients and staff have a strong obligation to return the ring to the staff and maybe even get a receipt, to make sure people make an effort to return it to the proper owner.

The fact that no one has returned it either means it hasn’t been found or there’s someone out there who is very anti-social. You might try pressuring the anti-social person, but the chances that they will turn around are less than 50%. Still, worth a shot.

But I would go back and do an extra careful search of the changing area and also of people bags and whatnot. It may be that it got into some crack or corner that no one has seen, so far. I have a hard time imagining anyone being anti-social enough to steal a wedding ring. So I think it would be worth researching the area again.

Keep_on_running's avatar

It would be common sense to me, to hand it in. Kind of a sad story, really.

Btw, where’s Pandora’s 20K party?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I feel that the person who has the ring should not fear getting caught, as they did nothing wrong. Of course the person who took the ring did something wrong. It isn’t theirs. They don’t know if it was left on purpose or not. An attempt should be made to find the rightful owner, whether it is by the person who found the ring, or in this case, the doctor’s office.

Having been in the hotel industry, it’s amazing some of the stuff that is accidentally left behind. Some items are highly valuable. Others, like soiled underwear or a half empty bottle of liquor, still generate calls from the owner asking for it back. Our rule was to hold on to it and not contact the potential owner. A guest’s privacy, even when they provided a phone number, could be a breach of privacy.

Our guidelines were to hold on to anything for at least 90 days. Anything of value was kept in a safe for up to a year, sometimes longer. I would hope that a hospital or doctor’s office would have the same policy.

The “Finders, Keepers; Losers, Weepers” is a childish taunt. I would hope that anyone, no matter what age, would see this as unethical. @jca You have a child or children, right? How would you feel if one of them came home with something of value, like a teacher’s ring that was left on the bathroom sink? What would you do?

Coloma's avatar

Well, I am sure happy that the person that found my wallet, which I had left in a grocery cart awhile back and that was stuffed with cash and credit cards and my driver license and numerous other important items did not take the ” finders keepers” rationale.
They turned it into the market which contacted me. Whew! Made my day!

Situational ethics may have their place but not when used as a rationalization to keep what does not belong to you. Pffft!

marinelife's avatar

Wow, @jca, I wil be very careful if I am ever around you.

1. The ring obviously was not the takers.

2. The ring was an object which clearly had value to whoever owned it.

3. It was in a place where it could easily have been lost or fallen off.

4. Taking the ring in those circumstances rather than turning it in was clearly stealing.

YARNLADY's avatar

The saying you have quoted implies something was lost, and that does not apply to your ring. Ask the company what their procedure is for filing a stolen claim, and also file a police report.

Do not rely on the staff to do anything, as it was probably a staff person that stole it. They are required to clean each changing room after every use.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Finders keepers” is how toddlers justify their bad behavior to themselves and others. It never applies. The closest thing to it that might be an acceptable principle is “there’s no way to return this to its owner, so I guess I’ll hold onto it rather than throw it away.” You’ll notice that the latter is far narrower than the former. Unfortunately, not everyone outgrows being a moral toddler at the same time they outgrow being a physical toddler. Indeed, some never outgrow it at all—and others even regress.

Jeruba's avatar

I think that generalities are only generalities and sayings are sayings. Expecting a folk saying to predict the behavior of a specific person or set the definitions of right and wrong is irrational.

The right thing to do would have been to leave the ring where it was found, or, better, alert someone and turn it in. The person who took it is not interested in doing the right thing.

(I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that it was turned in, and the staffer who received it is the one who took it. Your friend will probably never know.)

P.S. I refuse to remove my wedding ring during MRIs, surgeries, etc., and they always secure it to my finger with tape. If I were prepared to remove it, I would do it at home and leave it in a safe place. Your friend was foolish, in my opinion. But this does not justify theft.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Finders Keepers applies to finding something buried out in the middle of the woods or on a beach and things that have obviously been lost a long time that their owner has long moved on. Walking into an Dr office and seeing a ring laying there definitely does not apply to finders keepers. Turn the ring into the office ya greedy fuck.

Coloma's avatar

^ LOL Really!

gailcalled's avatar

We get advisories with every hospital procedures to LEAVE ALL VALUABLES AT HOME.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@gailcalled That may be true, but it still doesn’t excuse the behavior of the person who took it. Its like saying hey don’t bring anything cause if we do we WILL steal from you and their aint a damn thing you can do about it. How about just being a decent person and not taking what isn’t yours.

gailcalled's avatar

One hopes, but one cannot discount experience.

El_Cadejo's avatar

True, I’ve been there myself. Humans disappoint me on a daily basis.

Bellatrix's avatar

Finding a $5 note on the floor of a change room in a large, busy department store is a ‘finders keepers’ type thing. A wedding ring or anything like that, no. How awful for your friend. I don’t understand why the MRI place can’t just ask the other patients if they ‘saw’ a ring in the change room or to check through their stuff to make sure they didn’t accidentally pick it up with their clothing. You could do it in a way that doesn’t seem like an accusation.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You have to be a real cocksucker to pocket a wedding ring. God, think how much meaning it has. A scumbag would pocket a wallet or something else tangible, but a wedding ring?

nikipedia's avatar

@Jeruba, I am surprised they don’t insist. Even a small amount of metal can ruin an MRI scan. I once had a girl come in wearing a hair elastic with a thin band of metal, and it looked like the back half of her head was missing.

Jeruba's avatar

@nikipedia, I’m sure they’d insist if the ring were close to what’s being scanned. But when my ring is more than 12” below my waist and they’re scanning my neck, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

augustlan's avatar

In such a specific location/situation, that isn’t finding something, it’s taking something. The person who pocketed it had to know it wasn’t the right thing to do, so I doubt a phone call would inspire them to turn it in.

Nullo's avatar

Stealing a wedding ring is especially low, if you ask me. I’m not sure that the sort of person who would steal a wedding ring would be very much moved by either reward or conscience.

jca's avatar

@augustlan: That was my point. If someone took the ring, they’re not likely to admit it, even if for $100 reward (which they’ll never know about because they’re not getting called).

Maybe I didn’t get that across with the way I wrote the question, but I didn’t appreciate people calling me a thief and untrustworthy in their answers. I felt like to come back here and try to explain myself and risk getting jumped on would not be worth it so that’s why I didn’t bother.

Trillian's avatar

“I feel that the person who has the ring should not fear getting caught, as they did nothing wrong.”
Seems pretty clear to me.

marinelife's avatar

@jca Your own words set you up for being jumped on:

“I feel that the person who has the ring should not fear getting caught, as they did nothing wrong.”

” Finders Keepers.”

” I said unless it’s clearly the doctor’s property, such as on doctor’s desk, file area, etc. it’s one thing but on the floor of a dressing area (presumably) it’s not stealing.”

You are wrong. it is stealing.

jca's avatar

OK, @Trillian and @marinelife: I’m a thief.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jca I don’t think that anyone on this thread is calling you or thinks that you are a thief. You were not involved in this incident.

It sounds like your friend is looking for hope that the ring might possibly be turned in. It represents sentimental value, which makes it priceless. He also probably feels guilt over making the mistake of leaving it in the changing room.

It also sounds as if you are trying to provide your friend a reality check. If it wasn’t turned in immediately, then the likelihood of it showing up diminishes. Using “Finders, Keepers” though, is like poking someone where they are already wounded.

What the friend needs to hear is facts, which some of us have attempted to provide. Plus, there is always the remote chance that the ring will turn up. I lost an emerald ring once in a hotel room, and it turned up a day or two later. Mom lost her shawl while at a rehab center, and it turned up after almost a week of going MIA. A few of our hotel guests who claimed an article was missing later called us back to report that they found it in a pocket or their suitcase. There are numerous possibilities.

Your friend will eventually realize that losing the ring is not a big deal in the grand scheme of life. It’s better to show a little sympathy, as well as hope, for now. After all, he is getting an MRI for medical reasons. That’s tough enough.

jca's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer et al: I didn’t use the phrase “Finders Keepers” to my coworker. I used it to Fluther to illustrate my point. I said in my most recent post “I’m a thief” because @marinelife said she will be very careful when she’s around me and @Trillian seems to be implying I’m a thief by what she last wrote. I know what I meant and I’m not arguing with others about it – people will believe what they believe.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jca Thank you for the additional explanations. It wasn’t clear in the OP, at least to me. Please accept my apology for making an assumption. I was wrong in doing so.

Call it coincidence or whatever, but I just watched this video that a friend posted on Facebook. Ah-Ah’s Back. It’s a touching story about a beloved article lost.

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