Question:

If a person stole money or an object, can he return it without the owner’s knowledge?
If he must inform the owner, can he return it with an anonymous note? (ie, I regret that i stole this money and I am now returning it to you anonymously.)

Answer:

If the owner did not know that the item was stolen, i.e. stole some candies from a basket and returned them, then you don’t have to inform the owner. If the owner did know that something was stolen, then it is sufficient to leave an anonymous letter. In this instance you would also have to ask him mechila. If the person knew that you stole from him, then you have to let him know that you returned the item to him, so he shouldn’t think that a someone else that stole from him returned the item.

Sources:

CH;M 355-1, Igros Moshe CH:M 1 88 D:H Uma Sesha’alta Bos 15.

Tags: returning stolen money theft

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2 Responses to “Returning stolen object or money”

  1. What if the person did not know about the theft. Does he need to ask mechillah?

    • The general rule with asking mechila is that if the person was negitively affected then you have to ask mechila. However, if he was not affected by what was done it remains a mitzvah bein adom lamakonm and you don’t have to ask him mechila, just regular teshuva.

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