lost and found

Guangzhou Incentivizes Good Behavior With New Finder’s Fee

Compensation for the good samaritan

Guangzhou wants people to be more honest when they find a lost item, so has passed a law that will see people rewarded when they find something and turn it in.

Luo Zhenhui, deputy director of the city’s Public Security Bureau, said the law is expected to incentivize more citizens to turn in lost or stolen items so that government departments can locate the rightful owners.

Luo explained that the finder’s fee, which will be 10 percent of the value of the item, is processed through government channels: “The value of the items will be assessed and calculated by qualified third party companies and agencies,” he said.

Some 1,000 items worth 100,000 yuan (about $15,700) are turned over to the Guangzhou lost and found department every year.

It’s not clear how a finder’s fee will be determined for items with no retail value, such as passports, house keys or items with only sentimental value.

Zhang Yiri, an associate professor at Guangzhou City Polytechnic, said awarding 10 percent of an item’s value to the finder will encourage more people to hand in lost property and help to improve social morals and values.

In its report, the China Daily cites laws in Germany, Japan, and the UAE in which monetary rewards for returning lost possession are predetermined at set percentages.

This isn’t the first time finder’s fees have been mandated for the return of lost possessions in China. Back in 2010, a company in Nanjing caused a sensation by offering lost and found services to clients willing to pay a substantial reward for their returned goods. Working with street cleaners who turn in lost items, clients are obliged to pay a finder’s fee worth 30 percent of their returned item.

A spokesperson for the company explained that their services are provided for the good of society. “It’s a win-win result. The payment is a reflection of the value of our work, which has nothing to do with traditional morality.”

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor