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Ask A Trooper: Found wallet gets dad in trouble

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow. Special to The Forum

Question: My father found a wallet at a big retail store while on vacation and was concerned about handing it off to the staff there, instead deciding to contact the owner directly.

He was eventually pulled over by local PD, with the wallet in hand, and was told he could be brought up on theft charges. What should he have done? His intent, clearly, was to ensure that the staff at the store wasn't going to pocket any cash from the wallet before putting it in their safe, but that's not how the police perceived it.

Answer: There are two other options that could have been done besides turning the wallet into the store staff. He could had turned it over to a supervisor at the store where it was found. The other option is to report it to the local police or sheriff's department where it was found.

What could have happened in this situation is that the wallet may have been stolen and discarded where your father found it, and it was considered stolen property. By explaining how and where the wallet was found would clear him as a suspect of possessing stolen property. If further evidence is needed, law enforcement could obtain video footage from the store and that would support his statement.

We have had wallets, purses and property that were found on state highways or freeway that were turned into a trooper or an MSP office staff employee. We would go through the wallet or purse in an attempt to find some form of identification that can be used to contact that person.

If you ever lose a wallet or purse that contains credit cards and a driver's license, contact your credit card companies as soon as you can and report it missing so they can't be used to purchase anything. Contact your state's department of vehicle services and report that your driver's license is missing and a duplicate license can obtain. If the wallet or purse is stolen, report it to your local law enforcement agency where a report will be generated and the items can be returned to you if found.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

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