Fingers crossed

Man crossing his fingers behind his back (© Bits and Splits -

NEW YORK — If you think honesty is the best policy, then you might want to steer clear of the U.S. cities topping an unfortunate new list. A new survey is revealing America’s most “dishonest” cities — especially when it comes to pocketing money that doesn’t belong to them.

Imagine yourself walking down the street, and something catches your eye. It ends up being a wad of cash someone accidentally dropped on the sidewalk. You scan the scene and realize no one is around. Do you keep the cash or call the authorities to tell them what you found? The survey reveals nearly half of Americans would pocket the money. conducted a survey of 6,610 Americans nationwide to understand who would take the chance and keep $1,000 found on the street and who would opt to turn it into the authorities. They found that 47 percent of people would choose to keep the money if no one witnessed them picking it up.

Breaking down the demographics, a fractionally higher percentage of women (47.4%) leaned towards keeping the cash compared to the 46.6 percent of men who shared the same inclination.

Person holding $100 bills
What would you do if you found a pile of cash on the ground? (Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash)

Which Cities Do People Choose To Pocket The Cash?

A staggering 62 percent of respondents from Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans showed a tendency to pocket found money instead of reporting it to the police.

Following closely behind, Baltimore residents exhibited a substantial 59 percent inclination to keep cash found on the street. Notably, several Texas cities made it to the top five, with San Antonio leading at 58 percent, followed by El Paso (57%), and Austin and Arlington (53% each).

Cities like Boston, Fresno, Minneapolis, San Jose, and Denver showed an even split, with 50 percent of respondents either way on the decision.

Which Cities Value Honesty Over Cash?

In contrast, the survey highlighted that Jacksonville, Florida, had the lowest number of respondents (38%) willing to keep found money.

Los Angeles emerged as the second city, with a commendable 61 percent claiming they’d be willing to turn in discovered cash, sharing second place with Tulsa and Atlanta.

Rounding up the top three, Miami, Houston, and Phoenix were hailed as the most trustworthy cities, with a notable 59 percent prepared to surrender the money if claimed by the rightful owner.

City Hand it over % Keep it %
Detroit, Michigan 38% 62%
Memphis, Tennessee 38% 62%
New Orleans, Louisiana 38% 62%
Baltimore, Maryland 41% 59%
San Antonio, Texas 42% 58%
Las Vegas, Nevada 42% 58%
El Paso, Texas 43% 57%
Oakland, California 43% 57%
Austin, Texas 47% 53%
Arlington, Texas 47% 53%
Washington, D.C. 47% 53%
Louisville, Kentucky 48% 52%
Tucson, Arizona 48% 52%
Mesa, Arizona 49% 51%
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49% 51%
Sacramento, California 49% 51%
Virginia Beach, Virginia 49% 51%
Boston, Massachusetts 50% 50%
Fresno, California 50% 50%
Minneapolis, Minnesota 50% 50%
San Jose, California 50% 50%
Denver, Colorado 50% 50%
Albuquerque, New Mexico 51% 49%
Kansas City, Missouri 51% 49%
Nashville, Tennessee 51% 49%
Seattle, Washington 51% 49%
San Francisco, California 51% 49%
Portland, Oregon 52% 48%
Tampa, Florida 52% 48%
San Diego, California 52% 48%
Indianapolis, Indiana 53% 47%
Omaha, Nebraska 55% 45%
Raleigh, North Carolina 55% 45%
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 56% 44%
Charlotte, North Carolina 57% 43%
Colorado Springs, Colorado 57% 43%
Long Beach, California 57% 43%
Fort Worth, Texas 57% 43%
Columbus, Ohio 58% 42%
Chicago, Illinois 58% 42%
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 58% 42%
Dallas, Texas 58% 42%
New York City, New York 58% 42%
Phoenix, Arizona 59% 41%
Houston, Texas 59% 41%
Miami, Florida 59% 41%
Atlanta, Georgia 61% 39%
Tulsa, Oklahoma 61% 39%
Los Angeles, California 61% 39%
Jacksonville, Florida 62% 38%


“The results certainly demonstrate an extremely interesting insight into whether Americans would or would not keep money found on the street, but I think this has raised a bigger question: do people know this is an offense? Whilst pocketing money on the street has parallels to winning the jackpot, it can be classed as theft and unfortunately, ‘finders keepers’ won’t hold up in a court of law,” says Kiera Miller, online slots and statistics expert at, in a statement.

“To avoid being guilty of theft, the law requires the finder to make inquiries as to who the owner is and make efforts to return it where possible. The most obvious way of discharging this responsibility is to simply hand the money in at a police station.”

Methodology conducted a survey which surveyed 6,610 Americans in 50 different U.S. cities between Aug. 1 and Aug. 3, 2023. Respondents were asked, “You find $1,000 on the street. No one sees you picking it up. What do you do?” and to choose one of the following responses:

  • I hand it over to the police in case someone claims it.
  • I keep it.

Responses were recorded city by city, as well as broken down by gender and age.

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