Good News Blog


Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008

In Time of Financial Crisis, Passers By Give Back Lost Money

At the end of November New York saw a bank robbery. One that went wrong the good way.

Walking up to a teller a man demanded money. She gave him a little over $1000. As he was leaving the bank the teller yelled “Stop him! He just robbed the bank!”

Technicians repairing the bank’s ATM chased the guy and caught him on 38th street.

As they shoved him on the hood of a car the money scattered all about.

When police officers arrived at the scene, pedestrians walked up to them and bank employees present, handing over bills they had picked up.

“Even in the bad economy, all $1,082 that had been scattered before the police arrived was recovered in full.”
Paul J. Browne, chief police spokesman

Tuesday, May. 13, 2008

Honesty: What would you do?

Fox TV in Evansville, IN did a small test: how many people would pocket some “lost” money?

Julie Dolan:

Prices across the board are on the rise, from food to fuel, so what would you do to have a little extra cash in your pocket? Would you take money at the expense of someone else?

“Without honesty the world would be in a lot worse shape than it is now.”

David Scott of Evansville returned the money I purposefully dropped out of my purse. He, like dozens of others on Main Street, felt honesty was the answer.

“I want the person to do like I would do them if I drop something I would want them to tell me.”

What happens, though, when items are dropped and no ones around to claim them.

We found two lost and founds in Evansville, that officials say stay pretty busy.

“We get items every week, wallets, glasses, personal items.”

Officer Shawn Smith says they try to return items to their owners if possible, but when things of minimal value, like pocket knives and lighters, aren’t claimed they eventually throw them out.

When it comes to turning in money, both lost and founds have had some luck.

“There was a wallet turned in that had 800 dollars in it.”

“We did have an envelope turned in with 500 dollars in it.”

All the money was returned to rightful owners, like the money I dropped was continuously returned to me.

“It’s amazing the honesty of people because the person was just an average person.”

After hours of testing, we didn’t find one resident who pocketed the few bills… It seems that these folks are getting ahead the honest way

Monday, Dec. 3, 2007

Hero taxi man returns lost purse

A Christmas superstar’ is shining in Chorley.

Taxi driver Mohammed Essa has been dubbed a hero after returning a woman’s lost purse – containing £500 in cash and credit cards.

Mohammed, aged 40, who operates Classic Cars, found the purse in the road as he was pulling up to his rank on High Street, Chorley.

Then he got his teeth into the mystery – tracing the owner from an Euxton dental practice card he found in the purse.

The 46-year-old woman, from Adlington, who asked not to be identified, described her knight of the road as a real superstar this week.

“The relief was absolutely enormous,” she said.

“I had £500 in my purse – my whole life was in my purse. I couldn’t believe it. I cried when I got the call from the dentists.”

She added: “I didn’t think there were that many honest people left in this world anymore. What a superstar.”

Mohammed said: “If I had lost something like that I would have felt the same way. I would hope somebody would hand it back.

“She was gobsmacked, there were tears in her eyes. Just looking at her face made me chuffed about it.

“She gave me £50 to thank me. I tried to turn it down, but she insisted because of the honesty.”

Mohammed said he thought the purse was a mobile phone or iPod cover when he first spotted it lying in the road last Wednesday.

“She’d got in a taxi before and must have just dropped it,” he said.

The woman said: “I was going to go out and do some Christmas shopping with the money. It is a huge, huge relief. It would have put me in a lot of financial hardship.

“I hope he gets some business out of it, with people asking for him because he’s a very trustworthy guy.”

She praised the police, too, saying: “I thought my purse had been stolen and they trawled through all the CCTV which I was very appreciative of.”

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007

Wallet lost and returned, with a twist

On Aug. 28 I had the misfortune of losing my wallet. Within two hours and after contacting credit card companies it became evident that my card had been fraudulently used. Thus began the long process of cancelling not only my credit cards but also government cards, health card, birth certificate, etc. It was indeed quite a surprise to find on Aug. 30, my wallet had been left between my front doors.

Although I had been victimized by someone, they left a note of apology and monies to cover the cash and their misuse of my credit cards. This was indeed a nice albeit unusual gesture and I very much appreciated receiving my wallet with all my personal cards and photos back.

Judging by the apology letter left it seems the person responsible for the crime was influenced by a friend to use the cards. Her fiancee, however, when finding out what she had done, advised her to try and make things right. Fortunately, for her and for me, she took the advice of her fiancee.

I hope she was sincere when she said she had learned her lesson, because being young she has a long life ahead of her and certainly doesn’t need any black marks against her.

Finally to her fiancee. It is nice to know that there are honest people in the world.

Hats off to you!

Helen Marchment


Monday, Oct. 22, 2007

Angel in disguise returns wallet with valuables

This is the story of an angel in disguise.

I was participating in the Spoon River Drive. I stopped to purchase some shutters at a garage sale in Hanna City. While I was loading the truck, my billfold fell out of my pocket. It contained my engagement ring, wedding band, cash and my cherished mother’s ring.

Of everything that was lost, my mother’s ring meant the most to me. It was given to me by my three children, and shortly after they gave it to me my oldest son passed away.

Thank God for Mary Englebrecht. She found my billfold, and she tracked me down all the way to Benton, Mo. She called me on Monday and by Thursday I had everything back.

Mary has reaffirmed my faith in people and that God does answer prayers. There are good, trustworthy people walking among us. They are angels in disguise and they come in every shape and form. When you see them, you don’t know they are an angel but when they touch your life you are very blessed. Mary Englebrecht is my angel. God bless you, Mary.


Benton, Mo.

Friday, Aug. 31, 2007

Bike returned

A Kitimat family is happy to report their stolen bicycle has been returned.

And they credit the efforts of the RCMP and the Sentinel for getting it back.

“I am very grateful,” said Tuija Berndt, who’s 15-year-old son Nick had his $4,500 bike stolen on July 4.

Nick’s bike – specially designed for freeride style, which is downhill and jumps – was delivered to the Berndt’s home on the evening of Tuesday, August 21.

Tuija said she and the young male returning it agreed to keep him anonymous.

“He handed over the bike, we gave him the reward, thanked him and that was that,” Tuija said.

“As far as we’re concerned he just found it somewhere.”

She added that without the help of the Sentinel she does not think the bike would have been returned.

“The person returning the bike said he saw it in the newspaper,” she pointed out. “I’m certain that’s the only reason it was returned.”

The story on the theft ran in the August 15 edition.

Tuija also thanked local police and Constable Bryan Notheisz in particular for pursuing the case.

Nick, who is currently away in Smithers, has been notified, Tuija said.

“He is ecstatic,” she laughed.

When he does return he will have a few minor repairs to make as the bike is a bit banged up, she added.

But once that is done Nick can take it for a joy ride down a steep hill or two.

Friday, Apr. 6, 2007

Honest limousine driver returns lost money to passenger

The long road ahead reflects the path of life for this ‘good’ and honest limousine driver and a bread winner in a family of four, Prateep Sripolnok, who has been in the industry to serve tourists and visitors to the island for over 10 years.

He said: “ I usually give the money I earn to my wife as she will then divide it for the household commodities and monthly expenditure. Some goes to savings and some I give to my old parents.”

His wife: “I give him moral support. When he comes back late and exhausted and sometimes with problems at work, I try to comfort him saying we have the mission of building up good family with a prosperous future for the kids.”

Prateep said he tries his best each day which is usually a routine. He admits that he has to work hard and keep some savings for his children’s future education.
When free from work, Prateep spends his time with his family like any other ordinary person. Apart from that he also spends some tiny spare time farming some fighting cocks. His family breeds baby fighting cocks for sale as well.
One day in December last year, the chances opened for this middle aged man to get over 100,000 baht which is a lot of money for a typical Thai family. That day one of his foreign passengers left his belongings with over 100,000 baht in his car. Being honest to himself and to his career, plus sustainable tourism for the island he said he then reported his find to the police and later returned the cash to the owner. After that the Phuket Provincial Authority awarded him with the prize ‘The good deed person in Phuket’. Prateep and his family take pride in the title that he honestly earned.

His son: “My dad is great. He is smart and honest. We’re proud of him. I will follow his path even tough I want to be a policeman when I grow up.”

Prateep is another good example for the definition of self sufficiency economy and a figure of good morals, especially on Phuket Island where the majority of people rely on tourism riches.

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007

Wallet rescue prompts woman to ‘pay it forward’

On Jan. 26, at about 5 p.m. at Cody’s Roadhouse Grill in Bradenton, a very nice lady turned my wallet over to the waitstaff. I had left it in the restroom. I didn’t get to meet her and thank her, so I’d like to do that now. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now I have 10 good deeds to do to pay it forward. Thank you again. – Susan Bondy, Bradenton

• I would like to thank Daniel Ponton, president of Healthy Home of Sarasota located in Bradenton, for the service and cleaning of my TriStar Vacuum Cleaning System. He also refused to charge me for the needed replacement parts. Getting service like that is so very rare these days and I truly appreciate it. I have been a TriStar owner since 1989 and I honestly can’t imagine trying to keep my home clean without it. – Barbara Hill, Bradenton

• Recently a co-worker needed an emergency extraction of a wisdom tooth before leaving on an unexpected trip to Germany. As always, I recommended Scott Maloney. Unfortunately, his schedule was full for the day and he referred my co-worker to another dentist in Bradenton who said a dental surgeon would be required and that no one would be available for two days. We went to the Palmetto Dental Center, arriving at about 4:30 p.m. and personally explained the circumstances. Dr. Maloney and his staff stayed past their regular office hours to extract the tooth.

I will continue to refer friends to Dr. Maloney, not only as a very competent dentist but also as a compassionate person. – Gloria Lester, Palmetto

Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007

Found money given to honest finder

The Hawaii Police Department has returned $3,500 to a visitor who found the cash in a Kona parking lot last summer. The 73-year-old Australian woman reported the found cash to police on July 29, 2006, the same day she found it.

Police initiated a found property case but no one claimed the money or reported losing the cash. Under police policy, the finder is entitled to keep the money if it goes unclaimed for 45 days and police find no evidence that is it connected to a crime.

The Australian woman made arrangements for the Police Department to send a check for $3,500 to a friend of hers who lives on the Big Island. The friend will then get the money to the Australian woman.

“It was a pleasure to reward this honest individual,” said Lieutenant Randal Ishii.

Both women asked police not to release their names to the public.

Monday, Jan. 8, 2007

Library book returned – 47 years overdue

Robert Nuranen handed the local librarian a book he’d checked out for a ninth-grade assignment – along with a check for 47 years’ worth of late fees.

Nuranen said his mother misplaced the copy of “Prince of Egypt” while cleaning the house. The family came across it every so often, only to set it aside again. He found it last week while looking through a box in the attic.

“I figured I’d better get it in before we waited another 10 years,” he said after turning it in Friday with the $171.32 check. “Fifty-seven years would be embarrassing.”

The book, with its last due date stamped June 2, 1960, was part of the young Nuranen’s fascination with Egypt. He went on to visit that country and 54 others, and all 50 states, he said, but he never did finish the book.

Nuranen now lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches seventh-grade social studies and language arts.

The library had long ago lost any record of the book, librarian Sue Zubiena said.

“I’m going to use it as an example,” she said. “It’s never too late to return your books.”

Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2006

Money left in restroom returned to family

When Denise Fulk stopped with her family at the Dresbach Travel Information Center on Thursday morning to use the restroom, she took a bank bag in with her. She didn’t want to leave nearly $1,500 in cash unattended in the family pickup.

A few minutes later, the family left on their way to South Dakota — without their vacation money. That re-mained in the women’s restroom.

But through the courtesy of two unidentified strangers, the Arpin, Wis., family got the money back later that afternoon — all $1,488.01.

The Winona County Sheriff’s Department received a call at 2 p.m. from a visitor center employee, who said she had a bank bag containing the money. She told the department that a half-hour earlier, a man and woman had walked into the center carrying a bank bag.

The man who handed over the bag said, “I found this. I never opened it,” and walked away.

A sheriff’s deputy drove to Dresbach and brought the bag back to Winona.

The Fulks reached Albert Lea about 3:30 p.m. and discovered the money was missing. Denise Fulk called an employee at the center, who initially had no idea what she was talking about.

Eventually, the center called the sheriff’s department, the sheriff’s department called Denise, and at 5:30 p.m., Chief Deputy Ron Ganrude met the family in St. Charles and delivered the money.

Whoever found the money, the Fulks, who were traveling and unavailable for comment, want to thank them.

“I don’t know if it’s a reward,” Ganrude said. “It’s probably just a big thank you. Either way, they really want to know who turned their money in.”

Monday, Aug. 21, 2006

Woman’s purse and $1500 returned by Good Samaritan

A GOOD Samaritan made sure a woman’s holiday was not ruined when he handed her lost bag containing £800 (arounc USD $1500) to police in West Hampstead.

Davida Petters was waiting for a train at the Thameslink station on West End Lane with her brother David on July 30.

In the rush to start her trip to the Isle of Wight, carrying luggage and her pet dog, the retired legal secretary left her handbag on the platform.

As soon as they realised the pair got off the train and returned to West Hampstead but could not find the bag.

They were set to cancel their holiday but within hours police told Ms Petters, who lives in Hendon, that a passer-by had taken the bag to West Hampstead police station.

She said: “I was very relieved to say the least when I heard it had been handed in. It was such a nice thing to do and I want to say thank you. The police were also brilliant in helping out.”

Sergeant Eddie Odita, of the Kilburn Safer Neighbourhoods police team, said he would be nominating the good Samaritan for a police commendation.

He said: “It was such a good thing for someone to do. He walked all the way from the train station to the police station to hand it in.

“The station was closed on the Sunday but he made sure he spoke to someone.

Friday, Jul. 14, 2006

Watches, crucifixes stolen 25 years ago from convent returned

It took a quarter-century, but his conscience finally got the best of a thief.

Several crucifixes, pocket watches and a wristwatch were stolen from Maria Convent in Newton in 1981. Just last week, the Rev. Joseph Keil at Our Lady’s Help of Christians parish received a package shipped from San Jose, Calif., containing the stolen items, and a letter.

“The note said the person who took them was sorry, that the jewelry was taken many years ago and if it could be returned to the owner, that would be great,” Keil told the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham.

The Maria Convent is not affiliated with Our Lady Help of Christians. The convent is run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. Sister Joanne Gallagher, a spokeswoman for the order, said it’s still unknown whether the returned items were actually stolen from the Maria Convent.

“All I know it was 25 years ago and we really don’t have any accurate information right now,” she said.

Newton police Lt. Bruce Apotheker said a person has been interviewed who remembered the convent being burglarized over Labor Day weekend in 1981, but could not remember what was stolen.

The letter, dated July 2, 2006, seemed to be written by someone close to the thief instead of the actual culprit, Keil said.

“Please help return these items to the Sisters that they were stolen from, if possible,” the anonymous letter reads in part. “The person who stole them asks for their forgiveness, as he has asked for God’s forgiveness, and is extremely sorry for the pain that their theft caused.”

Tuesday, Jul. 4, 2006

Owner reunited with missing ring

When a valuable diamond engagement ring was turned in to Guelph Police four weeks ago, it got to spend time in lockup before the owner set it free.

“It was an expensive ring,” said Sergeant Ron Lord. “It was worth well over a thousand dollars . . . . It was no surprise that the owner didn’t want to be named.

“Maybe the boyfriend didn’t even know it was missing.”

The 18-karat gold diamond solitaire ring was found by staff at the Eramosa Heights Shoppers Drug Mart. They turned the ring over to police and with the help of numbers printed inside the band, the owner was reunited with her jewelry.

While it was waiting to be claimed, the beautiful bobble was locked up in a basement room of the police station on Fountain Street.

Under the Police Services Act, items turned into police are kept for 90 days, except for bikes, which are kept for 30 days because of the space they take up.

After the 90-day waiting period, police can put unclaimed items up for auction. Those auctions are held three or four times a year and are usually dominated by bicycles. But Lord said you never know what will get turned in.

Money raised at the auctions goes to the police board to fund local police-related programs.

“We have a request almost every meeting for support from the community,” police board chair Dave Clark said about how the auction money is used.

“What we take in (from auctions) goes out to charity. We get a lot of requests for support for things like sponsoring a hole at a golf tournament.”

Friday, May. 12, 2006

$1,714 lost, found and returned

With the money 10-year-old Tyler Bunch found near a bridge on a walk home, he could have bought 21 Game Boy Advance SP portable-video game systems – which come with a price tag around $80.

But Tyler knew better and made sure the money – all $1,714.11 of it – was returned to the owner.

In return for his good deed, Tyler has one Game Boy Advance SP and the knowledge that he helped someone.

On April 15, Tyler was returning home from playing with his friend in the Sandstone Subdivision in Lamar County. As he walked along Old Highway 42 to get to Ralph Rawls Road where he lives with his family, an object near the bridge caught his eye.

It was a credit card and a checkholder along with checks. Tyler was about to leave when he saw an envelope in the area.

“I said there might be money in there,” he said.

He turned around and found an envelope containing more than $1,700.

When he finally got home, he announced his findings to the family,

“He wanted to keep it, but he knew he had to turn it in,” his mother, Jamie Bunch, said. “If it was his money, he would want the person to do the same thing.”

Linda Bunch, Tyler’s grandmother, said the family scoured the phonebook, searching for the man whose name was on the credit card. No luck.

The next step was calling the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office contacted the bank on the credit card in an effort to track down the owner. The owner, a George County man, eventually was found.

He was a construction worker performing work at the Canebrake subdivision and had just cashed his mother’s insurance check to place the roof on her house, which was damaged from Hurricane Katrina. The man had no idea where he had lost it, Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said.

“His mom has a roof on her house,” Tyler said, as he beamed about his good deed.

As a reward, the man gave Tyler $100 – but the accolades did not stop there.

The Wal-Mart SuperCenter on U.S. 98 gave Tyler a $200 gift card, which he used to buy his Gameboy Advance SP. And at the May 6 Lamar County Board of Supervisors meeting, Rigel recognized him with a certificate.

“He was admirable for what he did,” Rigel said. “Hopefully, he’ll inspire someone else to do the same thing.”

Monday, Apr. 17, 2006

Everyone’s proud of boy who found, returned wallet

Several days ago, Brandon Jordon found a wallet on the ground outside his school. Inside was $125 cash and several credit cards.

His next move was clear.

“I took it to the office,” said Brandon, 12, a sixth-grader at West Middle School.

When asked if he ever thought about keeping it, Brandon said: “No. My mom (Dulece Jordon) taught me what the right thing to do is.”

Brandon also immediately told his grandfather, who works at the school. “Grandpa called my mom to tell her,” he said.

For his choices, Brandon has been lauded by his school principal, Monica Merritt, both in person and over the school’s public address system.

“I’m so proud of him,” Merritt said. “You’d hope that this would be the norm, but it isn’t.”

Merritt said every morning on the public address system, she tells the 470 students at the middle school about “choices and respect,” and she was able to use Brandon’s honest deed as a real-life example of making the right choice. It might even be considered an act of positive peer pressure, she said.

“The kids were proud of him and talking about what he did,” Merritt said after she made the announcement.

Brandon admitted that some of his friends told him he should have kept the wallet, but that wasn’t something he’d considered.

“I was taught to do the right thing from the time I was little,” Brandon said, adding that his big sister, Bianca, an eighth-grader in the same school, agreed that keeping the wallet would have been wrong.

In addition to receiving his family’s support and encouragement, Brandon’s selfless act will not go unrewarded by the school. Brandon was treated to a special lunch. And, there is the possibility of a reward.

Merritt said the owner of the wallet, happy with its return, might offer a reward. So the school, in turn, will match whatever amount might be offered.

“Goodness exists in the middle school,” Merritt said.

Thursday, Mar. 30, 2006

Cabbie of the year returned a king’s ransom in jewelry

Last August, New York City taxi driver Hossam Abdalla held a case that contained nearly a (m) million dollars’ worth of gold, diamonds and titanium.
But he soon got something he considers more valuable: the satisfaction of getting it back to the jeweler who left it in his cab.

Abdalla was named New York’s cab driver of the year at a Taxi and Limousine Commission ceremony today. “Honesty for me is everything,” says the Egyptian immigrant who’s been driving since 1999.

Most of the drivers honored today were recognized for returning lost property. One returned a camcorder and videotape documenting a child’s recovery from cancer.

Wednesday, Mar. 29, 2006

Million dollars in jewelry left on park bench, returned to owner

A purse containing a million dollars worth of jewellery was on its way back to its owner in Canada on Tuesday after being forgotten on a bench in a town near San Francisco, police said.

Shahla Ghannadian had entrusted her $2 000 Louis Vuitton handbag and its precious contents to her husband after they stopped at an ice cream parlour in the city of Sausalito on Sunday, according to authorities.

He left it on a bench near a downtown parking lot, and the oversight was not noticed until the couple was back at their San Francisco hotel, said Sausalito police sergeant Kurtis Skoog.

The couple had travelled from Toronto to San Francisco for a daughter’s wedding.

The purse contained a Cartier watch, cash, and jewellery worn by the mother and the bride at the ceremony, said Skoog.

The gems included emeralds, pearls and diamonds, one of them a 12-karat stone, according to police.

Ghannadian and her husband had been squeezing in a bit of sightseeing before catching a flight back to Canada on Sunday night. Family members checked the bench, but the purse was gone.

Local resident John Suhroff walked into the police department the next day with the bag, its contents intact, Skoog said.

Suhroff handed the bag to a clerk, saying it held “either costume or junk jewellery,” Skoog said.

“We called the owner, and they were ecstatic,” said Skoog.

A family friend picked up the bag and was to take it to Ghannadian, according to police. The family indicated Suhroff is in line for a reward, but did not specify an amount, Skoog said.

Friday, Mar. 24, 2006

The Honesty Prize

Temptation is a powerful force, but honesty is even more powerful in some people. David Romero, a 34-year-old ONCE lottery ticket seller, is one of them. He had, in his hands, a ticket worth 35,000 euros, which its owner had cashed in by mistake for 60 euros, and he was determined to find her. He spent nine long days searching, and finally tracked down the rightful owner of the mistaken lottery ticket.

David had vaguely remembered the woman’s face: a dark complexion and grey hair. She was quite old, he remembered, and had been dressed in light brown clothes the morning of 24 February, when she cashed in an ONCE ticket at his sales point on calle Córdoba in Marbella. There were lots of other customers there at the time, and he had not paid much attention to her.

“See if I’ve won anything on this ticket,” she asked him. The number was 61,062, sold the previous day in a supermarket in San Pedro Alcántara. He glanced at the ticket and noticed she had won 60 euros on the three final numbers of her ticket. “That’s wonderful!” she said. “That will see me through to the end of the month.” María Reina, 75 years old, then bought another ticket and left.

No luck up to then

“I was going to Estepona that day, and was in a hurry. Then I saw David. I have never been lucky in the past with the lottery, but thought to myself: “Will this number be lucky? I was delighted with the 60 euros I had won, because I had only 20 left for the end of the month. The pension, you know, doesn’t go very far,” said María.

When he had finished dealing with his clients, David ran the winning numbers through his TPV machine, which is a type of accounting machine used by the ONCE lottery ticket sellers. “When I typed the number in, I saw that the prize was higher than the maximum amount the machine pays out, so I went to the bank to check,” says David. He checked the bank book showing the winning numbers and saw that the ticket was worth 35,000 euros, not the 60 he had paid out.

His first reaction was to sit back in his wheelchair and look around to see if the woman was still there. But there was no sign of her. “I remember thinking: ‘And now how am I going to find this woman?’ She was not a regular client of mine, and from that moment on, all I could think about was finding her. I simply had to find her, so that she could collect what was rightfully hers.”

First step in the search was to tell the area head of ONCE about it. He was advised to hold onto the ticket over the weekend and wait to see if she could be found. “I was terrified of losing it. I kept asking my wife if it was still where we had put it away in the house.”

On the Tuesday, David was waiting at the doors of the main ONCE office to hand in the ticket, as soon as it opened. He decided to look for the woman himself, and spent the following nine days searching the streets. He spoke to other clients who had bought tickets from him at about the same time, asking if they knew her, but nobody could remember having seen her.

David then remembered having been to the bank that day, and that the woman had been there too. He wondered if she were a customer of that branch. “I asked in the bank, and they told me she was a client and gave me a number to contact her. She turned out to be 75-year-old María Reina, from San Pedro.”

The joy of winning

“My niece called me on the phone to tell me I had won. She asked if I was sitting down, and then told me the ticket I had bought on Calle Córdoba had won 35,000 euros,” says María. Then the bank called her. “María, go to bar Ramírez. They’re waiting for you there.” She did that, not knowing what to expect. “I was nervous about meeting David. I start crying and hugging him when I saw him. He is a beautiful person,” says María.

David recognised her as soon as he saw her, although he had to ask a few questions to be certain. As it turned out, she could even remember the winning number, so there was now no doubt about it. She was the winner he had been looking for.

Last Friday María received her prize money of 35,000 euros from the ONCE director in Marbella, Pedro Juárez. She plans to use the money to have some work done on her house. She is also anxious to buy a nice gift for David, as a way of thanking him for his efforts on her behalf. David is happy too, because has won a new client.

What they said

David Romero

Once lottery seller

“When I saw what the ticket was worth, I knew I had to find the woman who had won it”

“I didn’t know anything about her. I searched for nine days until I remembered her speaking to the bank clerk”

“It never occurred to me, or to my wife, to keep the money. She knew I was obsessed with finding María”

maría reina

the client

“I was in a hurry that day, and remember thinking to myself about the chance of winning something”

“I was very happy with the original 60 euros, because I had run out of money for the end of the month”

“I was nervous about meeting David. I started crying and hugged him. He is a great person”

United by destiny

David spent his 15th birthday in the Paraplegic Centre in Toledo. Some months before that, he had had an accident in a lorry. “I was not driving the lorry, of course. I was only the driver’s mate. I had gone to take the place of a friend who had gone hunting for the day, and had not even expected to be paid for the day,” he tells us. The lorry turned over and he was left paralysed for life. The driver of the lorry broke two ribs.

This Malaga man, a native of the Ronda town of Serrato, has spent the past 20 years in a wheelchair. In all that time he has done various courses, including computer technology, and has been selling ONCE tickets for the past two years. “I’ve lived in Malaga, in Mijas, and now I’m in San Pedro Alcántara. I sell in the streets,” he says.

Ticket number 61,062 has linked the lives of the disabled lottery ticket seller, David Romero, and widow María Reina, a 75-year-old San Pedro woman with four children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. The prize money, amounting to 35,000 euros, will allow her to carry out restructuring work on the house she bought in 1962.

Sunday, Mar. 19, 2006

Volunteer finds $30,000 in New Orleans wall

The woman who owned the flood-damaged home knew nothing about the money in the walls.

She was as shocked as the young volunteer who found it while helping tear out moldy Sheetrock.

“I thought it was Monopoly money,” said Trista Wright, 19, who attends Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., and has spent her spring break gutting homes.

She found the first few $100 bills poking out of a pile of Sheetrock that she was raking up.

Then she peeled back more Sheetrock from around an air conditioning vent in the closet wall where she’d been working and found a stack of bills almost six inches high.

By an unofficial count, it was more than $30,000.

She and fellow students notified the organizers of their church mission, who, in turn told the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office about it.

Deputy Gary Adams verified the identity of the woman who owned the home, which she said previously belonged to her father and had been in the family for generations. When the succession papers checked out and a call to a local lawyer who handled the transaction confirmed her story, Adams gave the money over to the homeowner.

“She was speechless,” said Wright, one of 175 Georgia college students who’ve been working as volunteers in the area.

Adams said the money likely dated to the early 1960s. He said it’s not uncommon to find stashes of weapons or medications behind the walls of homes, but this is the first time he’s heard of such a large sum of money being found.

“They were elated, but they didn’t know what to do with it,” Adams said. “It’s good to see someone find something like that and turn it over to proper authorities and the rightful owner.”

The homeowner, a woman in her 50s who grew up in the area and asked to remain anonymous, said she suspects the money belonged to her father, who grew up in the Depression and was wary of keeping his money in a bank.

“I had my suspicions about the money at first, but once I met the family and talked to the woman, I have no doubt she’s telling the truth,” said Aaron Arledge, one of the organizers of the mission. “She said her father grew up during the Depression and must not have told anyone in the family about it before he died.”

The one-story home in the Arabi area was flooded to the gutters, with no contents that could be saved, church officials said.

Warren Jones Jr., pastor at New Salem Baptist Church in the Ninth Ward, which has served as the home base for the church missions, said the woman submitted a request to gut her home earlier last week. He said the group normally doesn’t work in St. Bernard Parish because of the overwhelming need in the immediate area, but he agreed to make an exception for the homeowner after hearing about her needs.

“To see that woman’s face when we told her about the money, that’s the kind of positive story that makes all the hard work worthwhile,” Jones said. “She said it was a miracle. And when you think about it, it was.”

Friday, Mar. 17, 2006

Woman’s lost wallet returned — with cash

When Rapid City resident Mary Ellen Davis lost her wallet at her grandson’s basketball game a couple of weeks ago in Billings, Mont., she didn’t have high hopes of getting the wallet back, let alone getting it back with money inside.

She figured that whoever found her wallet would probably give themselves a finder’s fee.

“It’d be awfully tempting to take the money and drop the billfold in the trash,” she said.

Instead, Davis learned the next Monday that someone had turned the wallet in with $100 still inside — the amount it had when she lost it.

Davis said she has tried to find out who did the good deed, but whoever it was didn’t leave a name.

“Someone called my daughter and said it had been turned in,” she said. “The person wanted to be anonymous.”

Davis said she is thankful for the good deed and refreshed by the incident.

“It’s just a nice reminder there are people in this world that still are good,” she said. “Just the fact that somebody did that, I appreciate it.”

The basketball game she attended was at Billings Senior High School on March 3. She said she is still surprised by her good luck and the fact that the person didn’t take credit for it.

“It’s just something that doesn’t happen too often,” she said. “They deserve recognition.”

Friday, Mar. 3, 2006

Teen’s stolen prosthetic legs returned

Prosthetic legs that were stolen for a second time from a 16-year-old girl have been quietly returned, police said.

Melissa Huff’s mother found the legs in her unlocked car, which she had parked at Arcadia High School Wednesday afternoon.

“Nobody was seen in or around the car,” Arcadia police Lt. Ken Harper said Thursday. “There were no witnesses. We lifted some fingerprints and will see if there is any match.”

The first theft occurred Nov. 1 when a thief cut a hole in a window screen in Huff’s home in Temple City and stole a $12,000 cosmetic leg. Huff’s doctor and two companies donated money for a new, $16,000 “sports leg,” which the sophomore uses to play softball on the Arcadia High team.

The cosmetic leg was returned in early January, tossed into the family’s back yard.

But on Valentine’s Day, somebody stole both legs after prying open a screen window. Huff’s room also was vandalized.

At the time of the second theft, Huff was unable to wear the prosthetics because she had recently undergone an operation to repair the bone at the end of her amputated leg. She was scheduled on Friday to pick up yet another new leg, which the community again had rallied to buy for her.

The legs that were returned were damaged but usable, Huff said. The damage included graffiti.

Huff said she and her family have theories about who stole her legs and believe the culprit knows her.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I’m not scared of them.”

Huff’s right leg was amputated below the knee after she was struck by a car two years ago.

Arcadia is about 24 miles east of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006

Man Reunited With Rare Guitar

The lead singer and guitarist for the popular rockabilly group, King Memphis, got his guitar back this weekend.

The rare 1972 “Les Paul Gold Top” was stolen from Matt Robbins’ car two weeks ago. On Saturday, a Portland Merchant, who asked to remain anonymous, brought it back to him.

Robbins has been playing guitar for 30 years. He always wanted a Les Paul Gold Top and finally found one at a local music store three years ago. He immediately posted pictures and a description of the instrument on the internet. Word spread quickly throughout Maines music community.

Just how it turned up will remain a mystery, but an elated Robbins wants to thank everyone who put out the word about the missing guitar.

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2006

Wallet left in Utah gas station in 1967 returned to Pa. man

An antiques dealer is being reacquainted with his past after a Utah family returned a wallet he lost at a gas station nearly 40 years ago.

The beige wallet still held $5 in cash, a traffic ticket, 8-cent airmail stamps and Doug Schmitt’s freshman ID card from Utah State.

“I had a real full head of hair back then,” Schmitt, 57, of Lake Ariel, said Tuesday.

Schmitt apparently lost the wallet at a gas station in Logan, Utah, in the spring of 1967, when he stopped to fill up his 1955 Austin Healy.

The station’s owner stashed it in a drawer, presumably hoping the person would come back.

Ted Nyman, of Logan, found it decades later while cleaning out his father-in-law’s estate. He tracked Schmitt down through the Internet, and last week mailed the wallet 2,158 miles across the country.

“They’re good, honest people out there,” Schmitt said.

The wallet also had photos of Schmitt’s high-school girlfriends from Wissahickon High School in suburban Philadelphia and a dry-cleaning receipt.

“It makes me wonder if I still got some dry cleaning out there. I don’t know,” Schmitt said.

As an antiques dealer, Schmitt is accustomed to digging through other people’s attics for wartime letters and other personal histories. He never expected someone else to pore over his past.

“It’s just so wonderful that people will take the time to research that, then return something to someone they don’t even know,” said his wife, Vickie Schmitt.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006

Man’s Wallet, including money, Returned Nearly 40 Years Later

A man from Wayne County lost his wallet in Utah back in 1967. And after all this time, it’s been found and returned to him, including the money inside.

Doug Schmitt from Lake Ariel had a time capsule just waiting to be opened. But he never knew it, until now. He hasn’t seen this wallet since 1967 at college in Utah. “To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember losing it. It’s almost forty years ago since I lost it,” said Schmitt.

The wallet, with five dollars still inside, was mailed to Schmitt from Ted Nyman in Utah. Nyman’s late father-in-law had been keeping the wallet in his gas station. “We just assumed that it must have been lost and ended up left in the gas station or something and he never found the owner,” explained Nyman.

Now, going through the contents, Schmitt and his wife can’t believe what they’re finding. There are stamps, eight cents apiece, a traffic ticket, and even Schmitt’s college ID. “(It’s great) to see how he looked when he was a freshman in college because I didn’t know him til he had graduated and to see the pictures of his friends in there. Most of them girls!” exclaimed Doug’s wife, Vickie Schmitt. “It just kind of brings back memories. Things I did and receipts. I couldn’t believe I had that many things in my wallet!”

And the irony of it all, Schmitt is an antiques dealer. He spends much of his time working on things of the past and thinking about the people who once owned them. “(I am usually)looking through people’s old relics and old letters from maybe someone who was in the service writing to their wife or something like that. (I) never thought I would be the object of something like this, at least not at this age anyway,” said Doug Schmitt.

“It’s just so wonderful that people will take the time to research that then return something to someone they don’t even know. It really touched me to know there were still people like that in the world,” said Vickie Schmitt.

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006

Lost handbag with $110 000 jewelry returned

A handbag containing jewellery worth more than $110 000 has been returned to a woman who left it hanging on a shopping trolley in a car park, Australian police said on Saturday.

The handbag, containing gold bracelets, rings, earrings, chains and pendants – plus a large sum of cash – was handed in to police in Melbourne by another woman, who wanted to remain anonymous.

“Victoria Police are very pleased that a good Samaritan has actually decided to hand it in and not keep it for themselves, especially (as it is) a large quantity of jewellery and cash,” said police spokesperson Shaun Livori.

“The person who lost the jewellery was very unfortunate that she lost it and she’s an extremely lucky person that she’s going to get it returned to her.”

The owner, who wanted to be identified only as Kathy, told national radio she was overwhelmed by the return of the bag and its contents.

“I can’t believe it at all – I am so grateful to that person,” she said. “I didn’t expect to ever see it again.

$800 returned to owner

Matt Branum could have been a little richer this weekend, but he chose to do the right thing and turn in a pile of money he found laying in the street.

Branum, a Kennecott certified public accountant, and his wife were waiting for friends near a local service station Saturday at about 9 a.m. when they saw something that looked like a money bag near the road.

Branum got out of the couple’s car to inspect the bag and saw that it was a bank bag from Primetime Paintball. Police later learned that the bag contained about $800 in cash and checks .

But the obvious large amount of money didn’t deter Branum from doing the right thing. He immediately went into the service station and called police.

Branum said the decision was simple, and he hopes others would do the same if it were his money.

“I knew it wasn’t my money, and I wasn’t going to keep it,” he said. “I’ve not been brought up that way. It’s not right. The Bible says you don’t steal.”

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006

Fair security chief returned $2,000 he felt was too much pay

A high-ranking Cass County sheriff’s official returned $2,000 in cash to the Red River Valley Fair last fall, saying he thought he was overcompensated for providing private security for the annual event.

Lt. Rick Majerus, chief investigator for the Sheriff’s Department, said he’s managed private security officers – some of them off-duty sheriff’s employees – during the annual fair for the past 14 or 15 years.

Majerus said he returned the money to the fair in September when the fair’s financial matters looked bleak. The future of Bruce Olson, fair manager for 15 years, also appeared bleak after the fair lost about $310,430 during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

“Just looking at the whole situation, I just felt that it was the right thing to do,” Majerus said.

According to Majerus:

– He received payment in cash when the fair ended last year. Some years Majerus received cash while other years the fair issued him a check.

– Olson agreed in advance last year to pay Majerus $8,000 to manage the fair’s private security.

– He estimated working 120 to 130 hours for the 2005 fair, including backstage security shifts during concerts and time spent preparing and lining up workers.

The Forum calculated Majerus earned $61.54 per hour, based on his agreed-upon salary at 130 hours, for work at the fair. After returning $2,000, he earned $46.15 per hour, or more than twice the amount Majerus said he paid the second-highest-ranking private security officer.

– Most other private security officers working for him earn $10 to $15 per hour to start.

The fair also pays the county to provide on-duty sheriff’s deputies for security away from the concerts. Deputies can earn up to $35 per hour for the shifts, sheriff’s officials said.

After an audit on the fair was completed in November and fair accusations surfaced this week that Olson converted at least $292,049 for his personal gain, the fair association’s nine-person governing committee also plans to review compensation for fair workers.

“Compensation has been identified and whether or not it poses a problem has not been addressed,” Jonathan Garaas, attorney for the Red River Valley Fair Association, said of Majerus’ pay.

“I know the nine-person board is going to take an active role in the future at setting compensation for everybody that works for the fair,” Garaas said.

Majerus said he gave a quarter of his salary for managing the private security staff to Olson at the fair office and the fair’s nine-person governing board knew about it.

Majerus’ money isn’t part of missing concert money under investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the lieutenant said.

In a Dec. 21 letter, Sheriff Don Rudnick requested the BCI investigate payments for the Doobie Brothers rock concert at last summer’s Red River Valley Fair. Rudnick asked for the investigation at the request of Garaas.

The fair agreed to pay the Doobie Brothers about $50,000. But the fair issued two checks totaling $56,500 for the band. One was for $14,000 in cash. The fair can’t account for $6,500 in that transaction.

The fair association fired Olson at its Dec. 13 meeting. The 15-year fair manager sued the association and Board President Kyle Anderson for illegally firing him and breach of contract.

In a countersuit filed Thursday, the fair association denied the allegations and accused Olson of converting at least $292,049 into his personal gain by taking cash for accrued vacation and sick time and keeping proceeds from grandstand, food and gate sales. In addition, the countersuit claims Olson doctored entertainment contracts and destroyed financial records.

The Sheriff’s Department provides security at the fairgrounds for events like the fair and sprint car races at the Red River Valley Speedway. County records show the fair paid the county for deputies to staff the events and those who worked them received overtime pay.

The fair also arranges and pays for off-duty officers to handle specialized security details at fairground events, Garaas said.

“The fair orients themselves towards law enforcement officers because they are the best-trained people out there,” he said.

Garaas said the practice of hiring private security in addition to the county’s deputies has been in place for at least 30 years.

Officers said the fair hires private security officers to monitor the beer garden, backstage, VIP and grandstand areas.

Majerus said he managed between 20 and 25 private security officers during the fair and worked in the backstage area. Depending on the performer’s contract, Majerus said he sometimes delivered entertainers checks or cash in envelopes.

However, Majerus said he never knew the amount of the payments, including “road money” the fair paid as part of contracts with some performers. He also doesn’t recall whether he delivered money to the Doobie Brothers last year.

By returning $2,000, Majerus said he thought he’d be helping both Olson and the fair.

“You could just see the writing on the wall,” Majerus said of troubles facing both last fall.

He also said Olson never asked him to return money, but it was clear the fair was struggling.

“The money I got was the money he got to pay people,” Majerus said. “He said, ‘That’s what I wanted to pay you.’ I said, ‘It’s too much,’ and I wanted to help out the fair.”

Last year, Majerus said he worked between 120 to 130 hours for the fair, including time spent preparing and lining up workers. Majerus said Olson paid him $8,000, and Majerus returned $2,000.

Sometimes, Olson paid private event staff with cash, Majerus said. Other years the former fair manager issued checks to them.

“It’s tough to remember what years you got cash and what years you got checks,” Majerus said.

Two other high-ranking sheriff’s officials – Chief Deputy Glenn Ellingsberg and Lt. Mike Argall – have worked fair events under Majerus.

Majerus considered Argall, who has worked security in the beer garden, as second in charge for private security officers. Argall said private event staff members don’t have authority to arrest people and ask on-duty deputies to arrest patrons who violate laws such as trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID.

Ellingsberg, the Cass County Jail administrator, has provided security to gates leading to the infield, VIP and backstage areas. He said he works the fair as a favor to Majerus because the two are friends.

“What I do with the fair is very open,” Ellingsberg said.

Argall and Ellingsberg both said they’ve never received cash from Olson and the fair gave them tax forms each year.

County payroll records show Majerus took annual leave for his shifts during the fair last year, which ran from June 17-26. Argall and Ellingsberg, who said their shifts at the fair started at 6 each night, also took a small amount of annual leave.

On days he was scheduled to work, Argall said he spent four hours on duty and took four hours in flex time for work during the Sheriff’s Department’s Citizen Academy and attending City Council meetings.

For years, Cass County deputies have referred to the private work by high-ranking officials in the department as “Big Daddy Security.”

The nickname, Argall said, is an unfair characterization that he hasn’t heard for some time.

“I really think it was a jealousy thing because they thought we were making more than they were,” he said.

Sheriff’s officials are allowed to work as private security officers as long as they don’t have their own company, Argall said.

Majerus said he only works as a manager, doesn’t own or operate a security company and that his boss, Sheriff Don Rudnick, knew of his work as a fair security manager. Rudnick also is a member of the fair association’s nine-member governing committee.

Rudnick was out of town and unreachable Friday on an ice-fishing trip, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Calls to his home and office numbers were not returned.

The fair’s attorney said he didn’t know specifics about payments to private security officers, but Majerus and others have provided exemplary service.

Still, the fair plans to make several changes after an audit criticized the organization.

“One of the things we’re going to do is make sure there is full accountability and full knowledge of everything that is going on,” Garaas said. “The board is taking an active role in making sure that not only will it trust, but it’s going to verify, everything.”

Monday, Jan. 2, 2006

A resolution kept, a book returned – 68 years later

As a St. Vincent’s High School senior in 1938, Lois Lyttle checked “The History of England & Great Britain” out of Vallejo’s John F. Kennedy Library.

Recently, she fulfilled her 2006 New Year’s resolution early by returning it, just 68 years overdue.

“My son’s been after me to return it for the past three years, and this year seemed like a good time to bring it back,” said Lois (Lyttle) Swanson, 83, of Daly City. “It had been in a box in the attic somewhere, and my son ran across it and said I had to bring it back.”

Swanson said she checked the book out for a report and was supposed to return it Sept. 12, 1938, but, said her son Jim Swanson, 50, life overtook her and she forgot.

“She was 16 and in high school, and she just got busy – she got a lifetime of busy-ness,” Jim Swanson said.

Lois Swanson said the book was packed in a box for moving and forgotten.

“We moved a couple of times that year,” she said. “First to one of the new homes they were building on Tuolumne Street. But that turned out to be too far to get to school, so we rented a house closer in until I finished high school. Then I graduated from high school, went to nursing school and joined the army in World War II, and when I got out, my father had moved to San Francisco.”

By that time, “The History of England & Great Britain,” published in 1914, was just about the last thing on her mind, Lois Swanson said.

The daughter of a Vallejo native, Lois Swanson said her father owned the Vallejo Steam Laundry on Pennsylvania Street, and the family all lived nearby.

“I was born on Pennsylvania Street. Vallejo was a small town then and I used to say I had an uncle on every corner,” Swanson said. “When I was little, the laundry still had horses and carriages in the back. I remember my grandmother’s phone number was 29. My father had a store on Georgia Street, and the phone number there was 242. It was a small town and everybody worked on Mare Island.”

Growing up, Swanson said she was not allowed to wander past Santa Clara Street and Georgia Street “because the sailors were down there.”

But she joined the military after nursing school.

“I served in Southern California and then was sent to the Philippines where I became ill, and they sent me home, and I was discharged,” she said. She added that she’s planned to return to nursing school but met her husband Bill while shopping for a car. Four children followed, “so I never made it to U.C.,” she said. Bill Swanson died 13 years ago.

After sending her last child to college, Lois Swanson went back to work at a large San Francisco hospital, retiring in 1984 after 20 years.

“The hardest part was raising the children, but I’m glad I had them now,” she said, adding that she also has five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Jim Swanson said they decided to make a family reunion out of returning the book, and it took a couple years to get everyone together. It worked out for Dec. 23, 2005. The library was alerted in advance, he said.

“We drove around her old neighborhood, to her old school, and then to the library with the book. The librarian was quite delighted to waive the late fee,” Jim Swanson said.

JFK manager Linda Mattchette said she doesn’t recall ever getting a book returned quite so late before. Before this, the latest was about 40 years overdue, she said. Since the book is no longer in the system, Mattchette was able to waive the fine, but she calculated it anyway, and at 5 cents a day it came to about $1,200.

“She came in and said, ‘I want to let you know, I have a very long overdue book,'” Mattchette said. “She put it on the counter and said she was sorry for keeping it so long.”

If the book had been returned anonymously, considering its age, it would have gone to the Friends of the Library for its book sale in March, Mattchette said.

Lois Swanson donated $20 to the library’s children’s fund and bought the book back, she said.

“I felt more embarrassed than anything, with everybody looking at me,” Lois Swanson said. “But the library was very nice.”

Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005

Woman who returned diamond ring to receive diamond ring as award

The woman who found and returned the missing ring in a See’s Candies bag is scheduled this afternoon to receive a $2,500 diamond band as a reward.

San Jose resident Thea Sawyer says she plans to have the ring sold and use the proceeds to benefit the Mercury News’ Wish Book, the paper’s annual project that invites readers to help their neighbors. Details have yet to be worked out.

Sawyer said she was buying some Christmas gifts at See’s last Friday, the same day See’s clerk Wanda Estrada noticed the ring had slipped off her finger. Estrada was sure it somehow dropped into a bag of candy she filled during the holiday rush at the See’s store.

But it had actually fallen into the paper bag Estrada had given Sawyer to carry a gift basket out of the Prospect Road store in Saratoga. When Sawyer took the basket out of the bag on Wednesday, she spotted the ring underneath.

“I just by accident looked in the bag,” Sawyer said. “It was a lucky break.”

The story of the search for the ring had garnered national attention. Helzberg Diamonds, offered a $2,500 ring for anyone who came forward with Estrada’s missing band. Helzberg is set to present the ring to Sawyer this afternoon at its store in the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center.

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