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The Gemara in Sanhedrin 76b says that one is not allowed to return a lost item to a non-Jew. The Gemara speaks very harshly of one who does this. The Rambam (Hilchos Gezeilah 11:3) codifies this prohibition, but adds that it is praiseworthy to return the item if this will make a Kiddush Hashem.

Suppose I'm in the airport waiting for my luggage, and I notice the usual collection of bags which haven't been claimed by their owners, sitting off to the side. A very large percentage of these bags will end up being sold by airport auctions.

Does a luggage bag such as this fit the criteria for a lost item of a Non-Jew? Would one be allowed to simply take one? Bring provide sources, as well as solid logic to back your position.

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    Why would it not be a lost item and why would the Rambam's rule that you cite not apply? It seems like your answer is already here. – Double AA Jul 20 '16 at 22:14
  • Perhaps it immediately becomes property of the airport at a certain point. Alternatively, perhaps there is a civil law against it, of which I am unaware. – Chaim Jul 20 '16 at 22:32
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    "perhaps there is a civil law against it" Of course there is a civil law against it. It's stealing. – Double AA Jul 20 '16 at 22:54
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    The luggage has a name tag and an airline identity tag. As a result, the airline will first try to get in touch with the passenger, especially if it was actually supposed to be on a different flight. This actually happened to my luggage on both a cruise and an air flight and they returned it to me. As a result it is theft. Also, one is required to return it because of darchei shalom, chillul Hashaem, and the civil laws of theft as well. – sabbahillel Jul 21 '16 at 0:12
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In your case this is not a lost item, to take it is simply robbery, not a problem of found objects. The carpet luggage. is a place in which objects are placed, and have not been forgotten, as Tside Reshut Harabim. It is Derech Hinuach. If you find a battered suitcase along the side of a highway, it is a found object, it has fallen from a car. To take a coat on coat rack is not a found object, it is a robbery. The fly company puts the suitcases and they are not left. A whole system is implemented, including insurance and delivery.

See Gemara BM 21a "אי דרך הינוח... רש"י עתיד לחזור וליטלן": "And if it appears to have been [deliberately] put down, then even if there is a smaller quantity it should not [belong to the finder]" BM 25b " ואמר רבי אבא בר זבדא אמר רב: כל ספק הינוח - לכתחילה לא יטול": "and R'Abba B'Zabda said in Rab's name: Whenever it is doubtful if an article was left [in a certain spot], one must not take it in the first instance;"

See SA CM 260, 9, about an object that you know that is was laid. And here it is better, because the airport is a secure place, there are also security camera, and the police can investigate. No! definitely it is not a lost item and it is not "unclaimed".

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