63.21.010 . Procedure where finder wishes to claim found property-- Appraisal--Surrender of property--Notice of intent to claim—Publication
63.21.020 . Circumstances extinguishing finder's claim to property
63.21.030 . Release of property to finder--Limitations--Payment to governmental entity--Expiration of finder's claim
63.21.040 . Failure to comply with chapter--Forfeiture of right to property
63.21.050 . Duties of chief law enforcement officer receiving found property
63.21.060 . Duties of governmental entity acquiring lost property--Disposal of property
63.21.070 . Claim to found property by employee, officer, or agent of governmental entity--Limitation
63.21.080 . Chapter not applicable to certain unclaimed property
63.21.900 . Decodified July 2016
63.21.010. Procedure where finder wishes to claim found property-- Appraisal--Surrender of property--Notice of intent to claim--Publication
(1) Any person who finds property that is not unlawful to possess, the owner of which is unknown, and who wishes to claim the found property, shall:
(a) Within seven days of the finding acquire a signed statement setting forth an appraisal of the current market value of the property prepared by a qualified person engaged in buying or selling like items or by a district court judge, unless the found property is cash; and
(b) Within seven days report the find of property and surrender, if requested, the property and a copy of the evidence of the value of the property to the chief law enforcement officer, or his or her designated representative, of the governmental entity where the property was found, and serve written notice upon the officer of the finder's intent to claim the property if the owner does not make out his or her right to it under this chapter.
(2) Within thirty days of the report the governmental entity shall cause notice of the finding to be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was found, unless the appraised value of the property is less than the cost of publishing notice. If the value is less than the cost of publishing notice, the governmental entity may cause notice to be posted or published in other media or formats that do not incur expense to the governmental entity.
[1997 c 237 § 1; 1979 ex.s. c 85 § 1.]
The finder's claim to the property shall be extinguished:
(1) If the owner satisfactorily establishes, within sixty days after the find was reported to the appropriate officer, the owner's right to possession of the property; or
(2) If the chief law enforcement officer determines and so informs the finder that the property is illegal for the finder to possess.
[1979 ex.s. c 85 § 2.]
63.21.030. Release of property to finder--Limitations--Payment to governmental entity--Expiration of finder's claim
(1) The found property shall be released to the finder and become the property of the finder sixty days after the find was reported to the appropriate officer if no owner has been found, or sixty days after the final disposition of any judicial or other official proceeding involving the property, whichever is later. The property shall be released only after the finder has presented evidence of payment to the treasurer of the governmental entity handling the found property, the amount of ten dollars plus the amount of the cost of publication of notice incurred by the government [governmental] entity pursuant to RCW 63.21.010, which amount shall be deposited in the general fund of the governmental entity. If the appraised value of the property is less than the cost of publication of notice of the finding, then the finder is not required to pay any fee.
(2) When ninety days have passed after the found property was reported to the appropriate officer, or ninety days after the final disposition of a judicial or other proceeding involving the found property, and the finder has not completed the requirements of this chapter, the finder's claim shall be deemed to have expired and the found property may be disposed of as unclaimed property under chapter 63.32 or 63.40 RCW. Such laws shall also apply whenever a finder states in writing that he or she has no intention of claiming the found property.
[1997 c 237 § 2; 1979 ex.s. c 85 § 3.]
Any finder of property who fails to discharge the duties imposed by this chapter shall forfeit all right to the property and shall be liable for the full value of the property to its owner.
[1979 ex.s. c 85 § 4.]
(1) The chief law enforcement officer or his or her designated representative to whom a finder surrenders property, must:
(a) Advise the finder if the found property is illegal for him or her to possess;
(b) Advise the finder if the found property is to be held as evidence in judicial or other official proceedings;
(c) Advise the finder in writing of the procedures to be followed in claiming the found property;
(d) If the property is valued at one hundred dollars or less adjusted for inflation under subsection (2) of this section, allow the finder to retain the property if it is determined there is no reason for the officer to retain the property;
(e) If the property exceeds one hundred dollars adjusted for inflation under subsection (2) of this section in value and has been requested to be surrendered to the law enforcement agency, retain the property for sixty days before it can be claimed by the finder under this chapter, unless the owner has recovered the property;
(f) If the property is held as evidence in judicial or other official proceedings, retain the property for sixty days after the final disposition of the judicial or other official proceeding, before it can be claimed by the finder or owner under the provisions of this chapter;
(g) After the required number of days have passed, and if no owner has been found, surrender the property to the finder according to the requirements of this chapter; or
(h) If neither the finder nor the owner claim the property retained by the officer within thirty days of the time when the claim can be made, the property must be disposed of as unclaimed property under chapter 63.32 or 63.40 RCW.
(2)(a) The office of financial management must adjust the dollar thresholds established in subsection (1)(d) and (e) of this section for inflation every five years, beginning July 1, 2025, based upon changes in the Seattle consumer price index during that time period. The office of financial management must calculate the new dollar threshold and transmit the new dollar threshold, rounded up to the nearest dollar, to the office of the code reviser for publication in the Washington State Register at least one month before the new dollar threshold is to take effect.
(b) For the purposes of determining the thresholds in subsection (1)(d) and (e) of this section, the chief law enforcement officer or his or her designated representative must use the latest thresholds published by the office of financial management in the Washington State Register under (a) of this subsection.
[2019 c 30 § 1, eff. July 28, 2019; 1979 ex.s. c 85 § 5.]
Any governmental entity that acquires lost property shall attempt to notify the apparent owner of the property. If the property is not returned to a person validly establishing ownership or right to possession of the property, the governmental entity shall forward the lost property within thirty days but not less than ten days after the time the governmental entity acquires the lost property to the chief law enforcement officer, or his or her designated representative, of the county in which the property was found, except that if the property is found within the borders of a city or town the property shall be forwarded to the chief law enforcement officer of the city or town or his or her designated representative. A governmental entity may elect to retain property which it acquires and dispose of the property as provided by chapter 63.32 or 63.40 RCW.
[1979 ex.s. c 85 § 6.]
63.21.070. Claim to found property by employee, officer, or agent of governmental entity--Limitation
An employee, officer, or agent of a governmental entity who finds or acquires any property covered by this chapter while acting within the course of his or her employment may not claim possession of the lost property as a finder under this chapter unless the governing body of the governmental entity has specifically provided, by ordinance, resolution, or rule for such a claim.
[1979 ex.s. c 85 § 7.]
This chapter shall not apply to:
(1) Motor vehicles under chapter 46.52 RCW;
(2) Unclaimed property in the hands of a bailee under chapter 63.24 RCW;
(3) Uniform disposition of unclaimed property under chapter 63.29 RCW;
(4) Secured vessels under chapter 79A.65 RCW; and
(5) Crab or other shellfish pots in coastal marine or Puget Sound waters under RCW 77.70.500.
[2010 c 193 § 6, eff. June 10, 2010; 2009 c 355 § 2, eff. July 26, 2009; 1994 c 51 § 6; 1985 c 7 § 125; 1979 ex.s. c 85 § 8.]