Incident in Kessenich What happens when you leave your cash at the ATM?

Service | Bonn · A woman in Kessenich was withdrawing money from an ATM but forgot to take the cash with her. Then someone else pocketed it. Have you ever wondered if there are any security mechanisms in place for situations like this, and what if you’re the one to find the cash? Can you keep it?

If you forget your money in the ATM, it's your own fault if someone else pockets it, at least at first.

If you forget your money in the ATM, it's your own fault if someone else pockets it, at least at first.

Foto: dpa/Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez

f you leave money in an ATM it's your own fault - at least initially. In the case in question, a woman forgot to take the cash, 465 euros, with her, and it was pocketed by the next ATM user. Using photos from video surveillance, the police last week published a photo of the suspect, and within a few hours they had so many leads that they stopped hunting for the man. The photo was only released such a long time after the event because the police must first exhaust all other investigative approaches before publishing mugshots.

This is what happens if you don't take your money

To prevent money being left in an ATM, banks have security mechanisms. "After about 45 seconds, the money goes back into the machine, and the transaction is cancelled," explains Sonja Krämer, spokesperson for Volksbank Köln Bonn. If only some of the banknotes are taken and some left behind, the machine registers what was taken, and the amount that was left in the machine is credited back to the customer’s account. It is not possible to say how often customers forget or leave all or some of their money. "But it happens several times a month," says Krämer.

If you want to withdraw money, you should always be patient and wait until the slot with the money opens. The length of time this takes depends on the number of notes selected and the type of device, says Krämer. Normally, it takes between five and 15 seconds. "If no money appears, the customer should complain about this to their bank, giving precise details of the location, time, device and amount."

Regulations are similar at all banks

According to a spokesperson for the Sparkasse, the regulations are similar in all the bank’s branches. For instance, the machine only gives you your money once you have removed your bank card. This is to make sure you don’t forget the card. If you don’t take the cash quickly enough, it goes back into the machine after 20 to 30 seconds. "ATMs log every transaction and compare them with the amount of cash taken. So the Sparkasse usually automatically credits the amount back to the customer's account," explains a spokesperson.

Next, if for some reason you leave your cash at the ATM and someone else takes it, it is embezzlement, which is why the police investigated the specific case in Kessenich. The basic rule is that if you find money, whether at an ATM or on the street, you may not keep it. You are only allowed to pocket amounts up to ten euros. If the amount is larger, the money belongs in the lost property office. When it comes to items, their value is decisive: if you find an expensive mobile phone, you must also hand it in to the lost property office.

Germany has a lost property law

The German lost property law is regulated in the German Civil Code. It stipulates that lost property must be reported immediately to "the person who lost it, or the owner, or another person authorised to receive it". In the case of money, an attempt must first be made to find out who it belongs to. If this is not possible, the find must be reported. In Bonn, this can be the citizens' services or the police stations.

You can only keep money or items you find if no legitimate claim is made within six months. If someone does come forward, you are entitled to a finder's fee. This is five per cent for finds worth up to 500 euros and three per cent for finds worth more than 500 euros. However, there are restrictions: If you discover lost property or money on the premises of a public authority or on public transport, you are only entitled to half the finder's fee. And only if the value is over 50 euros.

Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach

Translation: Jean Lennox

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