Ethics of Scavenging

cynthesisApril 24, 2004

I lurk here daily and I thoroughly enjoy everyone's bright ideas and am delighted that I share an interest with so many interesting folks!

I was a tad disturbed by one post recently, about someone who found a pin in someone else's car and actually kept it. I didn't comment in the thread, but the first thing that crossed my mind was "thief"! But then again, I have a friend who works for the public transit, and we pick through the "lost and found" for items left over 3 months.

When does "curb shopping" and "dumpster diving" (both of which I enjoy!) and "finding things" become questionable? I once had a lady berate me for carrying away an office chair from her curb; she said she was leaving it for a charitable organization to pick up. I had no idea, and of course returned it.

Has anyone ever purchased something at a thrift store or yard sale that had something valuable (unknown to the seller, obviously) stashed in it? I haven't, but wonder what I'd do if I ever did. When we were cleaning out my grandmother's room after she passed, my cousin and I found small amounts of cash stashed between pages of books. This we turned over to our grandfather, but what if they were books purchased at an estate sale?

Just curious if anyone had any thoughts on the subject.

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There was an ad in our local paper recently from a woman who hid all her jewelry (in the past) and recently had a rummage sale. She was advertising for anyone who may have found her jewelry in what they purchased. I never saw a follow-up, so don't know if she got any back.

When my SIL cleaned out her dead mother's house, it took her 9 months to finish the chore. Apparently her mom had a habit of hiding things in squirrelly places. She found CD certificates in the rag bag, and her engagement/wedding ring set in the sewing box . . . . .

I've never found anything of value in my purchases. If I had, I would return it if I could remember where I'd purchased it. All those sales seem to run together after a few hours.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2004 at 8:27AM
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Curb side shopping and dumpster diving is recycling and as long as there is not a sign posted that states "NO TRESSPASSING" or "FOR PICKUP" tags on an item here it is fair game and not thievery. If someone objects to me taking something from their curbside I will apologize and leave it right there. Most charity items are suppossed to be tagged with a card in a bright color so the pick up people know it is to be picked up, and then the Junkers know they aren't to take it.

A lost and found item is, after 3 months, the property of whomever turned it in. If they do not pick it up three months after that, to the company that has gaurdianship of the lost article, what ever happens to it after that can be anyones guess but employees taking it(after the first 3 months) are not stealing if the company allows.

I have found money in an item purchased at a GS or TS. Ligit buy so it is mine as "buyer beware" is the norm for most used item so should the seller accept "seller beware". I have asked a person who set a rediculous low price for an item I wanted if he was sure that was the right price before I greedily handed him the money and grabbed my item and ran away fast. I didn't have to run but I didn't want anyone to tell him what a big mistake he made while I was still here and I'd feel like a thief for buying so low. I did tell him to "keep the change" as I was so happy with it.

I would never take a thing I found in someones home or car that I worked in or my friend's property. It, after all does have an owner and it is not being sold or given away. That is stealing!!! As for the friend finding the pin and keeping it, I hope I would treat my friends better and that my friends are better than that. Sure kids do say "finders keepers, losers weepers" but it still isn't a nice thing to do to a friend. The post that bothers me is the one where someone found a ring in a car a he was hired to work on and actually kept it. That IS stealing. I would hope that the people I hire to work for me would not take my property just because I wasn't quite sure where it was. There is my opinion of curbside marketing, GSing,TSing and Taking found items. I think I am a moral and responsible person.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2004 at 10:05AM
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I'm of the mind that if it isn't mine, I don't want it. If I find something that somebody discarded, unknowingly, I return it. It is what I would want somebody to do if I was the one that did the discarding. I know it doesn't usually work that son left a $20 bill in a pair of pants we put out for the yard sale, came out to get it just as somebody paid for the pants and they refused to give it back. I know how upset he was and wouldn't want to cause anybody else to feel the same way.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2004 at 1:39PM
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There was a report on our local news a few weeks ago about car wash attendants and how much loose change they steal out of cars they are detailing whilst riding through the wash.

It was appalling that so many would steal.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2004 at 11:27PM
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What about when you buy a item at a garage sale or flea market and find out later that it is very valuable? I've bought a few things very cheaply and later sold them for many times what I paid. I have a friend who thinks I should go back and give more money to the person I purchased these things from. I figure that they priced it and have access to books and the internet (the library) just like I do ~ so they did have the chance to research before selling to me. Besides I don't return the items I bought that I later find out to be broken, flawed or just worthless.

What do you think?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2004 at 11:08AM
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I think that if it is intened to be sold.. But there is a hidden/lost object that you know darn well wasn't for sell.. You do have a moral obligation to return said item.. It is NOT what you intended to buy, nor was it intended to be sold... What if it were an heirloom peice of jewlery?? I couldn't live in good consious taking/doing something like that.... This is how I would decide: What if the shoe was on the other foot????

If it were a Goodwill item or a Salvation Army iten I would call and find out if someone called them asking about the object....

    Bookmark   April 25, 2004 at 2:10PM
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I sold an old game at a rummage sale once .... I didn't realize it - but inside the box were my hubby's old GRADE SCHOOL report cards. The lady that bought it, walked back with them about an hour later and gave them back to me incase I was looking for them. How nice ! I would do the same thing ..... if it's not intended for sale - I'd give it back.Things that are put out as trash ,however; is free for the taking !

    Bookmark   April 26, 2004 at 9:11AM
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I agree that if it's in the trash pile and not marked for pick-up, it's fair game to pick up.

If it's sold cheaply and has greater value for re-sale, I also agree that anybody should do research if they think something could be worth more before they sell it for cheap. I've sold things on ebay for WAY cheaper than I bought them just to clear out my I didn't mind if I'd already had my chances to use it (or not use it - after awhile might as well sell or toss to make room for other stuff).

I've also seen NUMEROUS occasions on TV antique appraisal shows where somebody has purchased something at a yard sale for a couple of bucks and it was worth thousands...let the seller be sure they know what they're selling! It's the sellers prerogative to check out current values, if they're not into doing that and they're happy to get anything...well it's a good deal for the buyer then.

I agree that our real "finds" are usually outnumbered by the defective or junky stuff we buy impulsively while experiencing "buyers fever."

If I found something INSIDE an item and remembered where I got it, I would return it or offer to pay for it as well if I wanted it.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2004 at 2:12AM
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Tech support- if you were working for $15 a bad would you feel about stealing $4 worth of quarters from the lady in the BMW? honestly? try it some time, what is appalling changes depending on your circumstances.

however- we're talking about scavenging here, not the ethics of 'liberating' objects from the over-burdened (can you tell I have gypsy blood?)

I'm a third generation trash-picker, scavanger, and whatnot- my grandmother used to go door-to-door collecting used items for the ORT resale shop ( and an antique store that handled the 'good' stuff on consignment) so the ethics have been passed down...

and it came down to 'when it doubt, ask' which has worked out very well for me- people have 'held' stuff for me until I could come back with a car, said 'oh, really_ do you want the matching chair?' and every single iris in my garden (and my mom's) is because I knocked on a retiree's door, and offered to lift and fluff her bed- for 1/2 the leftovers.

never take more than a cutting from a public planting- ivy and ice plants being an exception, since they're downright invasive.

never pick more than one in 50 blossoms- which means that yes, you can take a daylilly bloom from a patch, or a rose from a large bush- but not one of the fifteen peonies in so and so's front yard!

as to finding things...honestly, ethics falls to intuition here...I told the widow to take the Toby mugs off the dollar table at her yard sale (fifteen royal doulton portrait mugs that she had loathed since she was a newlywed) and explained why...and I managed to convince one mom NOT to sell her son's Role-playing game collection- and that one killed me, since some of those source books are really rare (I left my card. he called from college to thank me, and agreed to sell me the one book I really wanted for cover, not market price)

but...(and here comes my gypsy nature) the snotty one who wouldn't let me take the bench she had already thrown out...and was really wretched to me about it on top of it?

I came back in the dead of night, took the bench, a very nice chunk of white quartz the size of my head, and five flats worth of pachysandra that I pulled up from around her mailbox.

it tells me it likes living on the hill behind my folk's deck- and it really likes not being run over several times a month!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2004 at 1:05PM
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There are not 2 different sets of ethics for the poor & the not-so-poor, in my opinion. And stealing inground plants is stealing. The bench owner might have been nasty but it's not a free pass to steal.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2004 at 7:09AM
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i agree with chinacat. it is easy to judge a person's actions if you have not been in their situation.

and in my experience, people who have tend to be the one's who will look with disdain or even anger at somebody who is "stealing", even if it something that they are throwing away and consider garbage. i know of people who were livid because homeless people were going through their recyclables to get bottles for deposit. that is just mean.

going onto a person's property and taking a bench from someone's garden is stealing. taking someone's cast off junk from the curb is not. i would have done the same thing. judge me as you will.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2004 at 7:56AM
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I've heard often of mechanics in addition to the detail folks gathering "change" from the ash tray etc. That is why I only keep pennies in mine now. I lock everything in my trunk with has a valea? lock inside. That way, my things are protected and I'm not lugging things everywhere when I get my oil changed. I keep a lot of things in my car since I travel so much.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2004 at 2:47PM
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If I were working for $15 an hour, I would be working at bettering myself so that I could find a better paying job not taking money from that BMW regardless of how much money they have-those people do work for what they have and if they hire someone to clean their car, it is still stealing to take something that doesn't belong to you. I have to wonder when it became okay to take something from someone just because that someone has more than you do??

    Bookmark   April 29, 2004 at 3:18PM
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I completely agree with how people with 'more' work very hard for their 'more' and don't deserve to be ripped off any more than a person with 'less'. Things on the curb that are disgarded should be considered free for the taking, things on a persons property are not.

I don't understand the reasoning behind anyone that would say 'no' to taking an item they have disgarded, and I am shocked that people have a problem with homeless taking recycled item (Get a grip people they are not going through your personal papers, they just want your bottles!!) While I am glad chinacat took her bench at night, I am just not sure that the spiteful nature of taking her plants was just--even though she probably deserved it. But I always say, what goes around comes around. Just my two cents.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2004 at 1:22PM
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Some one mentioned....15 dollars a shift and then some one said..."If I were working for $15 an hour, I would be working at bettering myself so that I could find a better paying job not taking money from that BMW."
Well I do not know where you come from but $15.00 an hour is good money in my white trash community. Get a grip with reality...please. Have you seen minimum wage?
I hope I read your post wrong. If I did I am sorry for opening my mouth. If not hello rich-y rich!
I am a common theif I guess. I steal rocks.
You know new construction sites in the industrial parkways?
I take the big rocks that are left in the mud/ dirt that they put grass seed over. They dozers smooth the earth flat and they plant seed. I on a weekend morning take a few rocks that are to be part of the grass underlay.
Is it stealing? That is the question that bugs me.
However my landscaping is nearly done and I will no longer take the rocks. Next...I need a bench...hmmmm...
Thems just jokes people...

    Bookmark   April 30, 2004 at 4:41PM
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Not hardly richy rich but if I was making $15/hr and couldn't afford the things I wanted on that kind of money, then yes, I would be trying to better myself. My comment was directed to the statement that "if you were making $15/hr, wouldn't you take the quarters from a BMW?" Oops, just re-read that and it was $15/shift but my thought is still the same. And yes, I am well aware of what the minimum wage is.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2004 at 7:55PM
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I don't care if I were dead broke, no income at all and looking at raw RAT for dinner I wouldn't take/steal 1 cent from anyone. I might think about takeing food if there was no other way possible to feed a hungry child but I would rather beg than steal and I'll work before I beg. I give food and clothing to women & childrens charities and food and clothing to homeless shelters. There may be a day when I need a little back. I pray that doesn't happen. I've seen familiesof 6 living in a station wagon and extended families living on a park bench and the sidewalk around it in Miami.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 3:23AM
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The poster who said if it is not yours IT IS NOT YOURS! was right on. Dumpster diving different. I work in a school and this new morality of if you can get away with it is is ok is driving me nuts. The extreme I would go to to return a "sold" item that hid a not intended to be sold item depends on circumstance. I would have a heck of a time remembering where I got what on a day like today when we are having our City wide garage sales. There is a reason the word gypsey had a bad we know why. BOO to you Chinacat. It is scavangers like you that give honest scavangers a bad name!!!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 8:21AM
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I think the Golden Rule should apply here----Do unto others...if that was your belonging and it was misplaced, would you or would you not want it returned to you? Put yourself in the other's shoes.

If the item is disposed of, then it is fair game. If it was misplaced or lost, efforts should be made to return it to its rightful owner.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 4:52PM
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There are a million insidious ways of stealing.I know people who would never dream of digging up someone's plants,but leave every restaurant with a purse full of sweetner,a bottle of ketchup and a roll of toilet paper,take the soap from the hotel room,or a towel or ashtray with the hotel logo.
I can't imagine blaming my financial problems on "having to work" a job of x amount of dollars. We really all have more control of our lives than we think.I work for myself cleaning houses now. The pay is great,I set my own hours,and I am treated like a queen at most houses.Never understood why anyone on earth has to steal.People are lazy by nature and there is always a service that they would rather pay someone else to do.I was on my way to dumpster dive with a friend recently and we passed a man with a sign that said" Lost my job,Need Money"and just shook our heads.Back when I had no car I played street music. Once when the guitar was stolen,I sang a copella until I had enough for another.I have seen artists, carpenters, jugglers,shoemakers,beadstringers,and massage plied in the streets.If that isn't enough, the streets in America have enough usable junk to supply any number of would be thieves with a profitable occupation.I never take anything, but then maybe that is why I find terrific junk,and have whatever I need practically fall out of the sky.Sandy

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 7:55PM
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5 years ago I became disabled after falling down a flight of stairs while 9 months pregnant with my daughter. I can no longer work and the insurance company first reduced, then cut off alltogether my benefits--typical insurance company games and all legal, my attorney assured me.

About 6 months ago I was walking down a quiet side street just off the main drag, which is filled with high-end antique stores and trendy restaurants. Sitting on a bus bench was a fanny pack. I stood next to it for a bit, thinking I'd guard it until someone returned. When they didn't, I knew that I would have to either find the owner or take it over to the police station and turn it in. I looked inside the bag (feeling horrible for violating someone's privacy) for some kind of identification, hoping that the person lived somewhere near and I could take it to them. What I found inside was over $800.00 in cash! Right about then a young woman came running up in a panic and asked me if I had found a purse. She was so upset that she didn't even see the bag in my hand. I showed it to her and she said it was hers. I did ask her to identify what was in the bag and she did--plus her ID was in the bag. She was a waitress at a nearby restaurant and that money was her paycheck. She took her bag, went her way and I went mine. I hope she realized how lucky she was that day!

My point is, even though my situation is financially dire and has been for a long time, I never would have kept that money. And had she offered me a 'reward' I would not have taken it. As to curbside stuff, I think everyone agrees that items set by the curb are for the taking unless marked otherwise. However, going onto someone's property and taking things is clearly stealing. None of us were raised by wolves, we know right from wrong.

Truly--what goes around, comes around sooner or later.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 8:12PM
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None of us were raised by wolves, we know right from wrong.

Truly--what goes around, comes around sooner or later.

Well said . . . .very well said!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 7:58AM
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I love my curb. I'm not ordinarily into scavenging myself (although I have, over the course of my years, found a few discarded items that I carted home), but I just love knowing that I can set out just about anything that's not total trash, and someone will pick it up and find a use for it! A couple of weekends ago, I put out some pretty good "junk" -- a couple of concrete garden angels (ok, so one was missing a hand, and my hubby was carrying her around, calling her "Stumpy the Angel", and the other large statue had been broken and reglued - and not very well at that), and within 15 minutes, a woman was parked at the curb, loading 'em up. I hope that the little curbside "decrepit angel find" made her day! ;-)

I recently had a little iron bistro set stolen from my side patio, in broad daylight. It was stolen -- no way could anyone have mistaken the set for a freebie. I cannot tell you how violated I felt over losing that stupid little $99 table and chair set. It makes you have at the very least, a few terrible moments where you feel as though your fellow human beings just completely, totally, unequivocally suck.

I think a person can try to rationalize it in his or her mind til pigs fly, but there is really never an excuse for outright stealing from another. And yes, I do think that "helping yourself" to the landscape elements in another's yard (or in a public place) is stealing. What else could it possibly be called?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 5:32PM
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Unless I'm misunderstanding, some people believe it's okay to steal if the stealer is poor and he's stealing from someone who is "rich"? I am astounded. How do you know that person is "rich" anyway? Because they have a nice car? Maybe it's not theirs. Maybe it's a rental. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe it's on the verge of being repossessed.

More not-sure-if-I'm misunderstanding: some people think it's okay to cut flowers from people's yards as long as there are a "lot" of blooms? Some people think it's okay to dig up plants from someone's yard because that person was rude? People think it's okay to take a few dollars in quarters out of someone's car while being paid to clean it? Or take a piece of jewelry that fell under the seat?

I just can't imagine how anyone could justify any of that and not consider it 100% STEALING, no less than if they robbed a teller at the bank. I'm going to have to send my mom an extra-special Mother's Day card and thank her for raising me right.

I am speechless.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 1:47PM
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You know, I have complete access and signing authority to my boss's bank accounts. He makes more in interest in a couple of weeks than I make in a year. He's FILTHY RICH by any definition of the word. Maybe I should write myself a small check, since he has so "much" and I have relatively little? How is that different from a minimum-wage car cleaner taking quarters from a BMW-driving customer?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 1:57PM
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Here, here to all of those who draw the line at taking other people's property because the world must owe them something.

My husband and I have work extremely hard to put ourselves through college, get good paying jobs, buy a nice house with nice things. In our marriage there have been many time where money was so tight we were not sure we would have a place to live at the end of the month. Now we make a very nice living, in fact well above the average for our neighborhood, and nice life for ourselves and our child.

In October someone decided that for whatever reason, they were much more deserving of our stuff than we were. This creep kicked down our door, stole about $15,000 worth of stuff, including priceless family heirlooms that had been passed down of the past five generations and a necklace that my husband gave to me the day our son was born. Then this slime ball came back a few months later to get more. Luckily we had gotten a dog who scared him off.

The impact of this violation was a whole lot more than the loss of stuff. Let me tell you what this did to our family. Our little boy wasn't even four when he lost a bit of his innocence. To this day he asks if the "bad guys" are going to come back and get his toys or our dog. I can't sleep without waking at every sound. When my husband is away at business I sit up until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning to make sure no one is coming into our house. We watch every car driving by our house and are always on guard to see who might be suspicious. This is no way to live!

We lost so much more in a simple burglary than some jewelry and electronic equipment; we lost our sense of safety, security and trust.

To those of you under the impression that taking someone's stuff, even a few plants around a mailbox, is acceptable because that person is rich, snotty, or not taking care of their goods I ask you to put yourself in my position of not feeling safe in my own home because of the self absorbed actions of one very small-minded, evil person. That lady who had her plants stolen probably went through much of what our family is going through still.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 3:53PM
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I can relate. For awhile we lived in a neighborhood where balls and scooters were stolen out of the yard when the kids ran in to use the bathroom.We came home one day to find the front screens removed.Another time one of the cars had a door that had been half forced.Then we bought a dog with a big bark, moved and we haven't had any problems since.Sandy

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 9:53AM
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i just want to clarify, because i don't want anyone to think that I steal, or condone stealing. i would never steal plants, or anything else, from anyone.
i agreed with chinacat about the bench because i believe that the lady was in the wrong. if it's at the curb, it should be fair game. curbshopping is great because instead of filling up already congested landfills, you are recycling. the bench lady was being petty, and i know lots of people like her, even in my own family.

however, i maintain my position on the change thing. I DO NOT THINK IT"S OK TO TAKE ANYTHING THAT DOESN"T BELONG TO YOU. i wouldn't do it. BUT i am not into judging people. that's what karma is for. everybody's got a story. it's all well and good to say "i would never do that", but not every person is like you. every human being comes with a different set of circumstances.

anyway i just wanted to clarify. thanks


    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 7:49PM
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.....How many people point out to a clerk when they have been undercharged? Or take their child to the movie and say that they are younger so that they can pay less?
.....To me this is just as bad because we are teaching our child that there are times that we can 'fudge' the rules of ethics and honesty.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2004 at 1:09PM
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I point out to clerks that there has been an error, in my favor or their's, it is up to them to determine. Tho if they state that they didn't make a mistake and it is in my favor I will not argue the point. I will take extreme measures when they make a mistake in their own favor to correct the wrong. I think lessons learned the hard way sometimes make a more memorable lesson. In some of the stores I've been in lately if the cash register doesn't show the clerk how much change to give back (by some error or malfunction) the idiots are absolutely lost. I have to I learned how to count money and make change before I was out of 1st grade. What the heck are schools teaching that a 17 year old person has no clue how to count back change. I do not, have never and will not ever sneak a price break for age by lying. I taught my kids and foster kids that the only ones that they can trust totally 100% is themselves and if they steal than they couldn't even trust themselves or stand tall and proud. I think they have all listened to me because they have jobs and have never as far as I know been in trouble with the law for theft of any kind or any other reason that I am aware. I also had them do homework and study and extra credit work and if they brought home grades that were above average they were rewarded with special things or events that they wanted.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2004 at 7:54PM
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My experience has been that charitable organizations never tell us to put the donations on the curb. They very clearly specify we put them on the driveway... typically with a note posted on the largest item, or in marked bags.

So my take on it would be... if it's on the curb... it's trash (or treasure) and if it's on the driveway it belongs to somebody else.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2004 at 9:09PM
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: ) Actually, I said $15 a shift... which is four hours, legally and technically under nminimum wage...

and honestly, I'm an enterprising little lass, and have never needed to work for even CLOSE to minimum wage- I'd rather work harder, or smarter...

but the car wash boy I was speaking of might just be doing it out of spite, since the lady in question earned the car in the oldest way -

and 'gypsy' has a bad reputation because there weren't always jews to burn- read your history, arcy. the philisophy that people who hoard more than they can hope to use don't need all they have is almost secondary to the need for a scapegoat in a community.

Spiteful? heck yes. theif? admit it freely. think that Velvet Sparrow's a more ethical lass than thee or me? very likely...

but, rather than accept my tale as examples of different situations...

you just proved yourself one of those folks who wouldn't pick the Christ up hitch-hiking, but drive on by with a mutter that he should try shaving occasionally.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 3:21PM
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Did you guys hear about the lady who bought a file cabinet recently at a garage sale? She paid $15 for it, took it home and there was over $90,000 inside!! She and her husband took the file cabinet back to the owner - an elderly widow. The owner gave them $500 for a reward. It was on the news last night. I thought that was a good story.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 6:12PM
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"Actually, I said $15 a shift... which is four hours, legally and technically under nminimum wage... "

I still don't get it. Because he's willing to work for an illegal wage, it's okay to steal from someone else?

**still baffled**

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 1:53PM
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"but the car wash boy I was speaking of might just be doing it out of spite, since the lady in question earned the car in the oldest way - "

You lost me there. How the heck would a car wash employee know how a customer earned their vehicle?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 4:05PM
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"but the car wash boy I was speaking of might just be doing it out of spite, since the lady in question earned the car in the oldest way -"

Doesn't matter how she earned her car. She paid for it! Rather than STEAL she worked it off. Please excuse not meant as, obscene pun! I don't get it either just because the woman's profession is in question the "car wash guy" is allowed to steal from her? I don't think so.

Chinacat Sunflower,
You have brought up some unreasonable points trying to justify "stealing". In your heart you know right from wrong and the moral thing. Xtianity has nothing to do with people saying it is right or wrong to steal, and my Non Xtian beliefs also say it is wrong to steal.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 4:49PM
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As an educator, I have to address certain ideas on this thread. Teaching is a very humbling experience because children have all kind of problems. Some children are physically and mentally challenged. They will be fortunate to earn a minimum wage, but never failures. Most of those children will break oneÂs heart with their perseverance and compassion. They will never be able to "work hard to better themselves." When your loved one is in the hospital dieing of congestive heart failure, and the aid is there to help you lift that person onto the bedside pot for the twentieth time that day and wipe their behind, you will love that aid even though you know she can never "better herself." Her poverty is really the cause of greedy people, and the shame is not hers. Personally, I believe she will have a greater reward in heaven. When I looked out at the new wing going up, the poor old cement mixer will never have his name on the side of the building, nor will the rooferÂs helper ever serve on a board of directors, but if it were not for him and people like him who would build the hospital. It is too bad that in this great country greed rules. Why canÂt we love one another for the content of our character and not the size of our bank account?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 5:49PM
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two thoughts:
(1) my mom, at age 83, used to walk with a slightly younger neighbor lady and then abruptly stopped. Her reason? On one walk she watched the woman go up a driveway and take a roll of postage stamps that had fallen to the ground next to a car, parked with it's door adjar. Obviously, they belonged to somebody else. On the same walk, she "found" garden tools sitting on a stool in a front yard and manicure scissors half way up a driveway. Her words were "finders keepers". my mom's word was "stealing". Point two: as a teenager I worked with my father in the prescription case of the drugstore that we owned. I had free access to the drug safe and to every med that was in the case. I never, ever, took a pill or anything else (including money) from the till. Somebody who steals, under any circumstances, is not honest or moral. It doesn't matter how much you have or don't have or how the person (you want to rob from) got their assets. It's stealing. There are ten laws for leading a moral life and they are called the ten commandments, not the ten really nice, flexible suggestions. There are consequences for breaking them.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 5:51PM
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This kind of got buried before many saw my comment; therefore, I am moving it up because I believe my views might be helpful.
Happy trails from The Chism Trail Garden

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 12:09AM
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how many of you wear nike shoes? or shop at walmart? (for two examples) now think about the people who make those items, working in sweatshops for pennies. aren't corporations stealing from them? and don't we condone it?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 9:59AM
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No, I don't think we condone it. But when certain corporations -- let's take Wal-Mart, for example -- move into a town and virtually shut down every other "mom and pop shop", what choices do we have, but to purchase from them? I don't like it. But I also think it's unavoidable in many cases.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 11:09AM
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This thread is starting to drift off topic in a political/social/economic arguementive direction. Let us please remeber the topic RE: THE ETHICS OF SCAVAGING

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 10:27PM
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well ill jump in if its a yard sale and they sell it they shouldve checked pockets etc.. i wouldnt return a doller bill i found in the pocket but if i found a valuable piece of jewlery or even if it wasnt just something that looked like a family member wanted id return it. maybe im crazy but id do it anyway. and you arent a thief according to the law for buying something and having it be worth money! they want to get rid of it you buy it its yours or they shouldnt have sold it to begin with!!!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2004 at 4:01AM
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This thread is starting to drift off topic in a political/social/economic arguementive direction. Let us please remeber the topic RE: THE ETHICS OF SCAVAGING

Ethics? There are ethics of scavenging? Well yes, there are..common sense. If you think you are stealing, you probably are. Most items left near a trash container are headed for the landfill/incinerator. Most people, like myself, leave stuff in the alley in the hopes that the entrepeneur will find it before the trash man. It costs extra for extra items outside of my plastic container so I am glad someone gets them.

I remember an article about someone finding a valuable painting behind a painting he bought at a salvation army store. It was worth thousands. Don't recall anyone saying he had to give the money to the SA.

lMost with a sense of morality will do the right thing in most situations. The rest won't.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2004 at 6:39AM
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In 1983 I purchased an antique sideboard-table at an estate auction together with a matching buffet for a total of $25, and as DH and I were loading them he took out the buffet drawers. One jammed and he reached back to dislodge what he thought was a paper clip. He handed it to me and I was surprised to see a ring. He jarred me back to reality to help him lift the table into the truck. On the ride home I looked at the ring and said, "You know. This looks real and it says '18k' inside." So I took it to our local jeweler who said it was a "near perfect half karat diamond" and estimated it was worth about $1,000. The next day I called the attorney for the estate and told him what had happened. He said, "You bought it and the auction company should have checked better. The law says 'finders keepers'. Besides, there is no other family anyway." So, I tried to be ethical, and as a reward now have a beautiful diamond.

Another time I bought a china plate full of junk costume jewelry at an auction for $2. I was actually bidding on the plate, which obviously no one but me bothered to pick up and look at the bottom of. It was Limoges and worth about $75 according to an appraisal. But as I untangled the beads, chains and other jewelry I found a string of pearls. It was heavy and after rubbing one pearl to clean it off, it glowed! Jeweler appraisal was $200 for a gorgeous string of cultured pearls that I now wear.

A friend once found an old leather wallet buried in a wooden keg of rusty nails. At auction he paid $1 for the KEG and when he dumped out the nails the wallet appeared. It contained $500 in old silver certificates!

It's out there, and it does happen - but probably not often.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 11:30AM
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You did the right thing in trying to return that ring, but just so you know for the future, the law does NOT say "finders keepers." Not in all cases. Not even in most cases. Hope that attorney did a better job on probate than he does on property rights and possession!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 12:36PM
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You can read history anyway you want Chinacat but everyone here and even you know what you did was stealing. The reasons WHY you steel do not change the fact that it is steeling. And by the way beards do not bother me. People who do not know right from wrong and or act accordingly do however.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 2:12PM
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Well lets see....Auctions have Auction Laws usually by state but ONE I know is consistant with all states. One is about such happenings. If you are buying an item "As Is Where Is" and after you have purchased it, you find that the bottom drawer is loaded with gold and precious gems, it is "FINDERS KEEPERS" (not in those exact words but good enogh for our purposes), you just got a very nice treasure very cheap. Just as if you found the bottom drawer will not open all the way and stinks really bad because it is jam pack loaded with dirty Pampers (Guess what?), those pampers are all yours and so is the item. Can't complain "AS IS WHERE IS" means that. Well I guess some folk could complain but it wouldn't do any good! LOL The only exception is if anyhting found could be proven as stolen in a limited time period from before the Auction.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 2:20PM
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ChismTrail, thank you for your inspiring words! If everyone thought more like you, the world would be a better place!
As far as trash picking goes, I think if the original owner no longer needs it and has put it at the curb, it's a great thing if it can go to help someone less fortunate instead of going to the landfill.
But when it comes to rationalizing stealing things that are not clearly trash - Maybe we should shift our focus from what we can get by with taking from others to what we are able to give to them. If they have more than you do materially, maybe you can give them kind words that will help them grow spiritually.
I grew up surrounded with the typical American beliefs that everyone is out for themselves and if you're able to make more money than other people, that's your good fortune and their tough luck. Now I follow Native American beliefs and have learned that traditionally, it was considered a disgrace for one person in a village to have more than the others. Anyone that was capable of working was expected to work and help provide for those who were physically or mentally unable to provide for themselves. Maybe I'm getting too philosophical here, but I think we can all learn something from that kind of philosophy.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 3:20PM
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jenny, i think that is a beautiful philosophy. it is a shame that this continent was founded on the two worst thefts of our time - the decimation of the native culture and slavery.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 9:05AM
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I know that this is a fairly old question..I sure hope that it keeps on going..I will tell you THAT!!
THIRTY NINE YEARS ago we bought this home and house and CONTENTS!! Family, friends??, prior owners felt free to STEAL the contents of the house!! I have never forgotten that..we did not live on the land, but owned it..I have never forgotten and love to look at those whom, who have bragged about what they have gotten from out HOMESTEAD..
I shall not forget a former renter who called me and told me ..Mrs. Merriss..I know that you have a Cherry Dough Bowl and I put it in the old barn under the elves where you could find it..guess what..when I went to get was in the hands of a THIEF!!! A THief that was a member of our church, had bragged to a member of our FAMILY??, that it was given to a " former family member"..RATS!! That former family member had left her 2 small children at birth for her Mother to raise!!DUHHH!! Her parents had intentionally left her out of the not blame morals.. that "lady" returned to our home years later and almost demanded a very old stove that was in the old house..OOPS..and I promise you..someone else had STOLEN it..
I still recall those that entered out land without permisson, STOLE and SOLD!!
Be it family?? friends?? others?? I know who several of you are..I have never forgotten and I have tried..want to return it?? TRY FORGIVENESS?? RETURN IT..OR AT LEAST..SAY..
455 Jonestown RD
Summertown, TN. 38483

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 4:15PM
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What I put out at the side of the road for trash pick up, is just that, it is my trash, whoever wants to go through it feel free. I once left my washing machine out by the side of the road as it had broken down, I think that it was out there maybe an hour before someone came and picked up. I am glad that someone was able to recycle it in any way shape or form.

Let me say this about the BMW thing, Just because someone drives a BMW, does not in any way, shape or form, mean that they are rich!! That is just an assumption. Someone could have given them the car as a gift, they could have inherited it, you just never know. When I was 32 years old, My husband was killed, leaving me to raise my 4 young children on my own. People that I THOUGHT were my friends started stealing money, and items from me. WHY? They figured that with what my husband had in Life ins, and whatever else, that I had money now, so they could just help themselves. Pretty disgusting isn't it? So just because you think someone MAY have money, does not give anyone the right to steal it from you.

I would have been more than happy to help someone out, had they just asked. But my husband worked just as hard for his money, as I am sure the person does that makes 15 dollars an hour.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 5:20PM
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here, it is illegal to take things from the curb.....
digging up plants is stealing...
I have told clerks that they haven't charged enough, or not at all. I have told cashiers that they gave me too much change back. I would take back cash that I found in a garage sale purchase....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2004 at 3:00AM
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We make it easy for folks. The one yard sale we had didn't raise any money to speak of, we'd have done better collecting cans and bottles by the road. So now, stuff goes out by the road with a sign that says, "Free- Take it." I'm surprized, sometimes, at how long it takes for some of the stuff to leave the curb. (Well, maybe there's not a huge market for cast-iron bathtubs.)
RE: stealing change from cars: My friend has had change stolen from her car, and it's 7 or 8 years old, and not a luxury car. And while I think that the health care workers who teld to folks in their last days, weeks, years, deserve a place at the right hand of G@d, I'm not simplistic enough to think that the reason they make so little money is because others earn more.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2004 at 6:40AM
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hi, wow blown away ,this was a good read ,trash is trash ,anything past the curb is stealing duh.
I still have a neighbor mad because she threw away a metal glider , I asked her for it took it home and re did it very well then she wanted it back not pay for the paint and labor but take it .well i,m a nice guy would have gave it to her for xmas but she called me a theif so I called the law ,wished I could show pics looks good in my yard
I also got a attendant at the car wash fired for taking 18 cents out of my ashtray did not want to get him fired but I asked for it back ,he said finders keepers ,there is a sign there that says if it is your car when you got here it will be when you leave , so I asked ,then his boss asked,
no change , NO JOB .
so I do stay on topic I saw lots of words ethics ,morals teach our children ,karma, do unto others,well I think most folks have morals ,and don,t steal there is not middle ground , if you pick my flowers without asking you stole them
30 dollars worth of ivy and a 20 dollar rock is going to get you arrested do we tell or don,t tell at sales is morals wether we sleep well and things like that is in my eyes the basics in most religion ,just one more way to try to keep us from killing each other off .
it is that limit ,that fine line that seperates the folks we are all afraid of and us .do you or don,t you.

as junkers if few of has morals pretty soon folks would not put out their junk because they would fear us coming into the yard .
I make less than 15$ an hr. and in my teens stole and vandalized enough to fry my karma ,so is the neighbor kid destroying my flowers payback that is the big ???
but it is illegal vandalism ,I will try to resolve it the coolest way possible ,if it does not work I call the law
one more thing my grandma for many yrs.left ten $ in her car when it went to the shop to test the shop after 9 yrs it was taken and she changed shops and stayed there for over 20 yrs. happy junkin ..rick in wichita

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 5:07PM
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Here's a spin of scavenging while having a car worked on. I didn't think it was stealing and thought it was funny to let my son, about 8 years old, clean throught the sofa in the waiting room while getting an oil change. He found a few dollars in change and threw away the wrapper trash. I didn't think it was like cleaning out a fish pond of coin wishes etc. It was more like finder keepers loosers wheepers, but the custumers form the past didn't even know change fell out of there pockets. I guess I could have made it so he'd donate the money to a good cause or something but we're good people and I'm sure he'll be a giving peson throughout his life. I know how it feels to have something taken alittas le of the curb. I once put my sons car seat on a rock wall halfway from the curb to the garage by some empty trash cans and when I came back to my mothers it was gone. I was more disturbed at the fact I had to drive without my son in a car seat back home. I looked at it I could afford another one and just maybe another childs life would be safer, even if I had to put my son in jepordy for one trip. There is a line with curb shopping though some people still beleieve even though it's heading for the dump it's still their stuff and they really want it going to it's demise. Especially after a divorce.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 9:10AM
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We all have our sins that we have reverted to at different times...God knows that we're flawed because He made us that way. You all have a conscience, and are mostly aware of your limits under your present circumstances, and may be aware of what you will or will NOT do when pressed by difficult times. You may steal a loaf of bread to feed your children when's a sin, but...

There are degrees of sin...shades of gray...hopefully you will never be tested to the limit; hopefully you will be able to forgive the sinner, when recognizing the lowness of their sin. Ain't saying that I'm not capable of low sin, and I do try to remember "there but for the grace of God goes I".

I also feel guilt every day for things that I've done. If you feel a twinge of conscience when you do something "borderline", or feel no twinge at all, it doesn't change the sin, just the person. No one "needs" plants out of anyones one "needs" money for cigarettes... but there are some very needy people out there. They just better not take my stuff!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 4:56PM
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I just wanted to say that I am a Aide in a nursing home and I don't feel the need to "better" myself!!! I love my job and the people I work with. I am doing what i do because I love it and not because of the pay scale. You may think yourself better then I because you make more money. or you are better educated. to bad for you

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 9:35PM
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Thank you for your kind acts of service and LOVE. One canÂt accomplish more or do better. What would we do without people like you? You deserve a crown of jewels.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 8:10PM
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Well said.

I am bummed because someone STOLE our recycling bins! I guess since they were at the curb, someone assumed they were trash. :(

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 1:07PM
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I have trash picked before, an old door that was truly in trash condition from a house that was being cleaned out for renovation or re-renting. And I still have guilt about it. Did I need that door? Nope. Did I ask for permission? Nope.
When I get tempted to take something that doesn't belong to me, like cool rocks or flowers or plants growing by the roadside, not near anyone's house, I remind myself of the Buddhist edict not to take anything that is not freely given. And the truth of it is, there's nothing out there on anyone's curb that I need.
An earlier post made mention of someone be willing to take a job at an illegal wage, referring to someone working for $15 per shift. As a teacher who's been desperately trying to find a summer job, let me assure you it's not that easy to get hired. For 2 of the retail stores that I applied to, I had to give my permission for them to run not just a background check but a credit check in order to be considered for a position. In the past month, I've submitted approximately 20 applications for part-time or temp work, largely focusing on the retail industry, and no responses. I'm college-educated, experienced in business and teaching, great interpersonal skills, good work ethic. No job. So I can easily understand why someone would take a job at an illegal wage--desperation. (That desperation of course does not make it right to steal.)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 11:02AM
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I bought an old chest at auction. Door was locked, they gave me key, inside were 2 sets of antique curtains that I used for years. Plus an added bonus(?) bags of dry garbage lol there was a garbage strike on in our city, I guess they put a couple of bags in each locked cabinet sold.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 11:27PM
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Ethics is what you do when you KNOW no one is watching.
Either you have them or you don't.

I choose to believe most do and pity those who don't.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 4:44PM
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I drive a BMW and make 10 bucks an hour!..its a 72 lol just thought Id add that.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 1:05AM
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Digging up old posts, eh? that's good.

I've always believed that if you didn't buy it, ot earn it, it isn't yours.
Funny how childhood morals can stay with you...I know that if I even thought about swipping a penny, a bolt of lightening would strike me down. Simple as that.

Honesty is always the best policy...But...what about being honest when someone asks you a question?...for instances,
"Do you like my new hairstyle?"..."And you really believe there is a Heaven?"
I've found that most people don't really want your opinon unless it's the same as theirs.
My sister was the nicest person that I've ever known...
she had a way of rearraging the truth because she didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings...strangers were soon her friends.
I'm totally opposite...if you don't really want my opinon...then don't ask me.....You might not make any friends with my attitude, but that's ok, I'm a loner anyway...ha
$10.00 an hour sounds great to me!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 8:52AM
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I am young and yet a scavenger from way back, I am also one who is not afraid to approach anyone and inquire about an object I find of interest. My experience has been great with people very often happy to be rid of the item in question; sometimes for a nominal price but more often free. Much of this stuff I sell or trade, some I keep, but it must be very unique as I am not into unecessary clutter.

I would never steal, have very clear moral and ethical perspective of the "gray areas", was brought up with good christian values, and would have to cross the bridge of finding something within something I had purchased when/if that situation arises; life is far too complex for sweeping judgements over matters such as these. Steal money from my car at the shop and I will push for your arse to be fired, come to my home with ill-intent and may god have mercy on your soul; because I will not.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 4:17PM
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A neighbor around the corner had beautiful, flat stones at her curb for weeks. When I drove by, I could see the pile slowly going down. So one day I stopped, rang the bell, and asked her if she was getting rid of them, and she said "No".And then she thanked me for asking, and said she probably should have them carried to her back yard, where someone was going to build her a patio. I sure could have used some (looked very heavy). But what in the world was she thinking? Couldn't she see that they were disappearing?I guess other people didn't ask.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 11:44PM
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I recently had my recycling bins and my mailbox stolen. Not the post the box was sitting on , but just the old ratty nasty looking mailbox. What on earth were they thinking ? Even though the items had no great value and can easily be replaced , I will always have the feeling of once again being let down by those few inconsiderate humans .
Thank goodness, I am lucky enough to be reminded quite often by acts of kindness that there are more good people around than bad ones.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 2:02PM
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Interesting, interesting ---glad this one was dug up from the layers, and set to the curb for a recycle. I have no incredible wisdom - there are so many things about which folks don't agree - as evidenced by the myriad responses here.

I would rather give stuff away (as I do in Freecycle) than to have someone argue about a 10 cent price at a GS. I live too far in the country and down a rural private trail - so curb appeal doesn't work here. BUT we did have a Free For All, at a local park.......last weekend. No money, no worries - and folks did a good job of taking the completely unwanted items home w/ them or to a TS of their chosing. We will do it again in June and September........



    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 2:36PM
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My grandmother died 7 1/2 years ago but the estate was just settled less than 2 years ago. We donated alot of things that an uncle viewed as "junk". The lady from the "junk store" called my mother's sister and they had found family photos in a box that this lady thought must have been a mistake. These were the pictures like you see hanging in the cracker barrel. My 73 year old aunt gave me the pictures because I was the only one who showed any interest in them but they hadn't been given to me when I asked for them. When I visit that thrift store I'm always reminded of that lady's kindness and I would try to do they same in a similar situation. On another note my grandmother had her wedding rings hidden too and had tons of change in old medicine bottles.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 5:31PM
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Remember the song, "God's Gonna Get You For That"?

I rest my case!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 10:48AM
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