Posted by: Lister | January 23, 2007

Finders keepers — Devon Treasure hunt

From the independent

Scavengers were enjoying a veritable treasure hunt in Devon yesterday as the cargo of the stricken MSC Napoli bobbed ashore to be rifled through with delight.

As anti-pollution experts fought to avert an ecological disaster and salvage workers prepared to pump 3,500 tons of oil from the heavily listing vessel, opportunists took advantage of its escaped cargo.

[…]Ignoring warnings that some of the lost containers held toxic liquids, hundreds flooded to the picturesque holiday spot to nose through the lost goods, insisting ­ as they stuffed their plastic bags ­ that they would do the legal thing and report their find to the receiver within 28 days.

“On Sunday evening the jungle drums were beating so I went down to the beach around 8pm and it was a scene of bedlam,” explained Gareth Topping, who had nabbed one of more than a dozen £15,000 motorbikes on shore.

The rules for beachcombing

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, salvage remains the property of the original owner and anyone who finds washed up goods must contact a government official, the “receiver of the wreck”.

On forms handed out by the police, individuals must declare what items they have taken and send it back to the receiver within 28 days.

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