WSVN — If you found cash on the floor, would you turn it in to police like the law says you are supposed to do? Most of us would, hope no one claims it, and you get it back. But when one woman turned cash in, she was told she couldn’t get it back. Why? Lets bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It was cash, a nice bundle of cash. Hilary saw it laying on the floor of the store and picked it up.

Hilary Alexander: "It was $200, and it was fresh from the ATM because it was crisp $20s and they were barely folded."

Ask yourself, if you found $200 in cash, would you just stick it in your pocket? For Hilary, the answer was absolutely not.

Hilary Alexander: "I was brought up that way, to do the right thing, to be honest as you can."

Hilary was at a Publix grocery store in Hollywood.

Hilary Alexander: "And there was a guy checking out, so I walked over and I picked it up and I was like, ‘Hey is this yours?’ And he said, ‘No, it’s not mine.’ I’m like, ‘Are you sure?’ He says, ‘No, it’s not mine,’ and the guy behind him, I was like, ‘Hey, is this yours?’ He said, ‘No.’"

Now understand, Hilary has a full-time job and a part-time job to get by, and $200 dollars would be a nice chunk of change.

Hilary Alexander: "That is my FPL bill, that’s my phone bill, that’s my car insurance. Vital stuff for me that can cover a lot of bills for the month."

But Hilary went and found the store manager to let him know what she had found. When no one claimed it, they called Hollywood Police.

Hilary Alexander: "They took all my information, all my license information, my address, my social security number, my date of birth. So he said, after 90 days, if no one claims it, the money is yours. I’m like, ‘Yes!’"

Ninety days passed. Hillary called Hollywood Police to see if anyone claimed the $200.

Hilary Alexander: "They said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, OK, that’s great news.’"

But Hilary’s excitement was wiped out when the officer told her she could not have the $200 she found because….

Hilary Alexander: "’Well, unfortunately, within 48 hours you were supposed to come to the police department and file a claim form and give us $25.’"

Hilary replied that the officers she handed the money to 90 days earlier never told she had to file a claim, so she went on the police department’s website to find the information requiring her to fill out a form and pay them.

Hilary Alexander: "And their website is useless. There is nothing on there about lost and found."

Well, Howard, if you are honest and turn in cash or property to the police, can they keep it if you don’t fill out a form?

Howard Finkelstein: "It depends. When you turn cash or property over to the police, if they have a policy governing found money, they have to tell you what to do. Many departments don’t require you to fill out a form, but Hollywood does. And since they did not tell Hilary, she is entitled to get the money back."

We contacted Hollywood Police. A spokesperson told us, because of the confusion, they would care of this.

In other words, the department didn’t let Hilary know she had to fill out a form and pay $25 to pick up the money if no one claimed it. Hollywood then changed their website to include that policy with the $25 fee so people would know in the future.

Because Hilary wasn’t told, Hollywood said they would make a one-time exception: give her the money and drop the $25 fee, meaning she got the full $200.

But, Howard, can they charge to pick up money you turned in?

Howard Finkelstein: "Yes. The police can charge a reasonable fee to cover their cost to store and put a notice out that the money was found. If the rightful owner claims it, that person has to repay the fee to the person who turned in the cash or property."

Hilary Alexander: "The moral to the story: always do the right thing."

Hilary hopes her experience doesn’t stop people from turning in money they find, because in the end, she did get the cash.

Hilary Alexander: "Who do you call about something like that? You call Help Me Howard."

Glad we were able to help a honest person get what they deserved. And what if you are the person who loses the cash or property? Check with every place you went that day. Then call the police department that day and for the next few days, in case an honest person like Hilary turns it in."

A problem found you? Wanna give it to someone else? Contact us. No forms, no fees, hopefully just cash in with us. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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