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<   No. 3876   2018-05-29   >

Comic #3876

1 Ishmael: Oh! Add that there's a reward for finding him.
2 Ishmael: No questions asked. Unless you're a Martian, in which case I'll have some pretty harsh words.
3 Elspeth: How about I just put the reward? How much are you offering?
4 Ishmael: Um... A pizza from Giuseppe's?
4 Elspeth: So generous...
4 Ishmael: I'm sure he won't mind donating one!

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"No questions asked" is an interesting piece of wording on lost property posters. In two states of Australia (namely South Australia and Tasmania), it is actually illegal to post a notice of lost property and indicate "no questions asked". The relevant legislation:

South Australia, Summary Offences Act 48A: Advertising rewards for the return of property stolen or lost
Where a person publicly advertises a reward for the return of any property that has been stolen or lost and by that advertisement indicates—
(a) that no questions will be asked of the person returning the property; or
(b) that the person returning the property will be safe from apprehension or investigation; or
(c) that money paid for the purchase of the property or advanced by way of loan on the property will be repaid,
the person, and any person who prints or publishes the advertisement, is guilty of an offence.
Maximum penalty: $500.

Tasmania, Police Offences Act 1935, 41: Advertising reward for return of stolen property
(1) A person shall not –
(a) publicly advertise a reward for the return of any property which has been stolen or lost, and in such advertisement use any words intimating or purporting that no questions will be asked;
(b) make use of any words in any public advertisement intimating or purporting that a reward will be given or paid for any such property as aforesaid, without seizing, or making any inquiry after the person producing, such property;
(c) promise or offer in any public advertisement to return to any pawnbroker or other person any money paid or advanced on any such property, or any other sum of money or reward for the return thereof; or
(d) print or publish any such advertisement as aforesaid.
(2) A person who contravenes a provision of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding 5 penalty units. (A penalty unit is defined in the Penalty Units and Other Penalties Order 2014 as $140.)

The justification is that if the person who returns the "lost" property is actually a thief who stole it, then the civilian posting the reward does not have the authority to render the thief immune from prosecution, or to imply that they have that authority.

Fortunately Ishmael lives in the USA.

EDIT: A reader pointed out that similar sorts of actions are known as compounding a felony. And then I discovered the even more similar concept of theftbote. Which is a cool name for a crime.

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