Shawnee man who returned lost phone charged with misdemeanor theft

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Rick Conkling thought he was doing the right thing until he was charged with misdemeanor theft after returning a cellphone the day after he found it. 

"I had every intention of taking a look at the phone and seeing who it belonged to," said Conkling. 

Two weeks ago, Conkling went to the Subway near 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue to get a sandwich during his lunch break. As he got out of the car, he told 41 Action News he found a cracked iPhone lying on the ground. 

"It was beat up and destroyed," he said. "I didn’t think it would work. I thought I would take a look at it when I got off work to see who it belonged to." 

Conkling put the phone on the front seat of his car and went back to work, forgetting about the lost iPhone until the next day. 

"The iPhone was in the seat making noise. I turned it over, turned it on. [There] was a text stating 'I lost my iPhone, please return to the Subway.' Immediately that's where I went," he said. 

As he left his home, Conkling said there were two Shawnee police officers sitting in a car outside of his home. But according to Conkling, he didn't think anything of it until the next day when an Overland Park police officer knocked on his door asking what his intentions were with the lost phone. 

"I really thought after I explained myself to the officer that would have taken care of it, taken care of the problem," Conkling said. "I am not sure why it didn't." 

Instead, he received a notice that Overland Park police had charged him with misdemeanor theft of lost or mislaid property. 

There is no law requiring a person to return a found item within a certain amount of time. However, Overland Park police told 41 Action News Conkling should have brought it into the Subway immediately after finding the phone. 

"If you know it's not yours you want to turn it into where you found it," said Officer John Lacy of the police department. "If it's in a local business, turn it into the business. If you don't feel comfortable, take it to the police station." 

Now, Conkling said he is going to be wary. Especially when it comes to returning a "lost or mislaid" phone. 

"I'm going to have to think twice about it," he said. "If it's near a business, I would turn it into the business and see if anyone said anything about a lost phone but I would have to think twice about it. I don't know that I would do it right away." 

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