I forgot my gadget at a canteen just outside our office building. One week later, I saw a waiter while he was apparently on a break holding a gadget that I know was the one that I forgot at the canteen. I know that the gadget was mine because I bought its casing in Singapore during my vacation there. I asked the manager of the canteen if a gadget was reported to have been found, but he said there was none. I am hesitant to speak directly with the waiter because I am afraid that he might deny that he had found my gadget at the canteen. What am I going to do with this situation? Is there a crime that I can file against him in case he denies that the gadget he is using is mine?
We strongly suggest that you personally approach the waiter whom, you said, was holding your gadget, to inquire if he has by chance able to have found a lost gadget while working at the canteen. Before you approach him, however, it would be best if you can show a document proving that the gadget is yours such as a receipt with the serial number or special code of the gadget. In case the waiter denies that has found your gadget after you have shown and confirmed to him the serial number of your gadget, you may approach his direct supervisor or manager to inform him of your situation.
On the other hand, the waiter may face criminal charge if he would not return your gadget. His liability is governed by Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code punishing the crime of theft. The provision states: “Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence, against or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latter’s consent.” Article 308 further states that theft may also be committed by the following: 1. Any person who, having found lost property, shall fail to deliver the same to the local authorities or its owner; 2) Any person who, after having maliciously damaged the property of another, shall remove or make use of the fruits or objects of the damage caused by him; and 3) Any person who shall enter an enclosed estate or a field where trespass is forbidden or which belongs to another and without the consent of its owner, shall hunt or fish upon the same or shall gather fruits, cereals or other forest or farm products.
Based on the above provision, a criminal complaint for theft is just proper to be filed against the waiter if he has found your gadget, which you said was lost and which the waiter failed to deliver to local authorities or to you as owner thereof.
We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com